Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews the first Grand Slam of this new season.
Welcome to Australia for the first Grand Slam of the new year and new decade.
Every year we plunge right back in around this time for what’s one of the year’s most compelling tournament, but it feels a little wrong to do so now.
Australia, you might have heard, has been dealing with and reeling from wild bushfires throughout the country, altering its landscape forever killing numerous wildlife and generally making everything, including air quality which is rather important if you’re playing tennis, rather miserable. The wildfires have made the looming Grand Slam tournament a mere afterthought, and deservedly too: sometimes, it’s much, much bigger than tennis.
In other words, we’re presumably here to watch and discuss great tennis but truly, tennis isn’t on our collective minds at this point. How could it even be? Novak Djokovic might win the year’s first major, and maybe Serena Williams will add yet another title to her name over the next two weeks, but really who gives a damn about tennis at this point?
Anyway, we’ll do our best here to predict how both singles draws might unfold over the latter half of this month. Who should be feared and who shouldn’t be? Who should we expect to see perform well and who may not?
The answers to all these, and plenty more, below—just, you know, don’t bet the house on these. We’re not exactly great at it.
The women’s draw is well balanced and fairly wide-open for a number of favourites so we really can’t wait to see how things break out. Australian Ashleigh Barty is the favourite in her home Slam for a reason and she’ll look for a good start to her 2020 season to defend and build upon what was already an amazing 2019 season. She may not overcome a revitalized and motivated Serena Williams in the semifinals but who could? Over on the lower section of the draw, we see the two favourites emerging unscathed from the pack.
Quarterfinals: Ashleigh Barty over Madison Keys; Serena Williams over Naomi Osaka; Simona Halep over Aryna Sabalenka; Karolina Pliskova over Amanda Anisimova
Semifinals: Serena Williams over Ashleigh Barty; Simona Halep over Karolina Pliskova
Final: Simona Halep over Serena Williams
Over on the men’s side, all eyes will be on second-seed Novak Djokovic, who will attempt to add yet another title down under to his stellar resume and thus catch up ever so slightly to the two players ahead of him in the career Grand Slam titles list. Well okay that’s not entirely true: all eyes will also be on everyone’s two favourites in Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal because all eyes are always, always, always on the pair. And okay, sure, all eyes will also be on Daniil Medvedev if only to see how everyone’s favourite heel has for an encore after dominating the latter half of last season.
But yeah, otherwise, you know, we’re super pumped about Djokovic’s title defence in Melbourne and we guess everyone probably is just as much. Maybe.
Quarterfinals: Rafael Nadal over Gael Monfils; Daniil Medvedev over Andrey Rublev; Roger Federer over Sam Querrey; Novak Djokovic over Roberto Bautista Agut
Semifinals: Daniil Medvedev over Rafael Nadal; Novak Djokovic over Roger Federer
Final: Novak Djokovic over Daniil Medvedev
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG