Australian Open 2016: Who Wins? Ubi Tennis Gives Its Predictions - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open 2016: Who Wins? Ubi Tennis Gives Its Predictions

Are Victoria Azarenka and Novak Djokovic the favourites to win the Australian Open 2016? Who else should players watch out for? Our predictions on the first major tournament of the year.

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Ivan Pasquariello, Editor in Chief

 

Men’s Winner: Novak Djokovic

After watching the Serb playing in Doha there is no way I see him losing to anyone this year in Australia. His biggest competition have been pitted tougher draws (look at Federer’s for instance) and hasn’t look as fresh and brilliant as the Serb has in the first part of the season. A big threat for Novak in Australia can be Stan Wawrinka, but the Swiss would have to beat both Nadal and Murray to make it to the last act. Djokovic is the favourite by far.

Women’s Winner: Victoria Azarenka

Is good to see her back at her level. A two-time champion in Melbourne she has the game to beat anyone. With Serena half-injured and the others pulling out of tournaments last minute, Vika is also the only serious contender who has already won a title this year.

Possible Surprise: Camila Giorgi

There is a chance that Serena could go out in the first round, if the Italian finds a good day. On the men’s side watch out for David Goffin.

Adam Addicott, Co-Editor in Chief – Team Coordinator

Men’s Winner: Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic is without a doubt the one to win the title. His display against Rafael Nadal has clearly shown that he is still in the same form as his record breaking 2015. The likes of Roger Federer and Andy Murray will be stern a test for the Serbian but he has the edge with his game.

Women’s Winner: Serena Williams

There are lots on uncertainty surrounds the Womens draw following injury concerns surrounding Serena Williams, Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova. I believe that Serena Williams is still the strongest contender for two reasons. The first is that she would be eager to claim the title to remind everybody how dominant she is following her shock US Open loss. The second reason is because the American always have a way to get herself out of troublesome moments. Her play might not always be pretty, but it mostly produces the right results in the big tournaments.

Possible Surprises:

Victoria Azarenka is a dangerous player in the women’s draw. Twice a champion in Melbourne, she also recently won the Brisbane International title. She recently said in an interview that ‘her best is yet to come’ and I believe that. Regarding the men’s draw, I think section six of the draw could pave the way for an unexpected contender. In that section is Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic. Both men have kicked-off this season with titles (Wawrinka in Chennai and Raonic in Brisbane) and they have the weapons to trouble the players. Wawrinka is a two-time Grand Slam champion and Raonic has a fresh confidence boost following his win against Roger Federer in Brisbane.

Andrew Moss, Editorial Team

Men’s Winner: Novak Djokovic

Djokovic has been playing other-world tennis for over a year now. In Doha last week, Nadal agreed: “I know nobody playing tennis like this ever.” Barring injury, who will beat him?

Women’s Winner: Garbine Muguruza

2015 was the Spaniard’s breakthrough year highlighted by a run to the Wimbledon final. Now ranked 3 with a powerful game to take on the best, the only question mark is whether, having pulled out from WTA Brisbane last week, she is fully fit.

Surprise winners

Men: Nick Kyrgios. A potent mix of talent, belief, big match temperament and home support might just dig out the title for the 20 year old. He also seems more at ease with himself recently and no one, perhaps even Djokovic, will want him in their path.

Women: Agnieszka Radwanska. The Pole is the WTA’s form horse and is overdue a slam. Her belief will be strengthened by winning the year end championships in Singapore and she won in China just last week. The litany of injuries and illnesses among the the rest of the top 10 may be overstated but may be equally be important for Radwanska to win.

Diego Sampaolo, Editor – Reports & Results

Men’s Winner: Novak Djokovic

Djokovic is the favourite as he really wants the Grand Slam and is stronger than the other players at the moment. He plays very well in Australia.

Women’s Winner: Agnieszka Radwanska

Aga Radwanska will pick up where she left off in 2015 and will win her first Grand Slam title. She plays the best game in the tour at the moment

Surprise Winners:

Stan Wawrinka can reach the final again in Melbourne and could pose a threat to Djokovic’s reign. Vika Azarenka could be the surprise as she is on fire at the moment and thrives when she plays in Australia.

Bruno Bergareche Sans, Editorial Team

1) Despite wanting to be original I can only say Novak Djokovic and more so after seeing his performance in Doha. The win against Rafael Nadal in the final is a clear sign of the gap between him and the rest as of today.

2) I would have said Garbiñe Muguruza had she not of pulled out of Brisbane last week so I’m going to predict Victoria Azarenka to win her third Australian Open after sweeping through to the title in Brisbane.

3) I only think defending champion Stan Wawrinka can upset Novak Djokovic if the Swiss player has one of his good days. His powerful strokes can out-hit Djokovic but it all depends on whether he can keep it up for a sustained period of time. As for the women, Aga Radwanska deserves some Grand Slam success and comes into it in good form.

Alex Burton, UK Editorial Team – Challenger Tour Expert

1) Men’s draw Novak Djokovic – no one seems able to challenge him right now, (except maybe Stan Wawrinka), Nadal proves he is still a long way off, Federer cannot stay with Djokovic over five sets, Murray late last year could not either.

2) Serena Williams seemed to lack motivation after the end of her “Serena Slam” attempt. Does she truly believe that that can be achieved this year. If not is the motivation there? The game I think is. Serena is my pick though.

3) To be honest, I think anyone who is not called Novak Djokovic being the winner is a “shock” unless he gets injured or ill. I just don’t see who can beat him over five sets when fully fit. Others might predict Murray,Federer, Wawrinka or Nadal, so I’ll be radical and pick a home player. Kyrgios has been picked so why not Bernard Tomic? He’s proven he can beat Nishikori, Gasquet, Ferrer home slam run? Women’s draw Sam Stosur.

Sebastian Luzomski, Editor, UK

Men’s Winner: Novak Djokovic

By far the most consistent and the mental strength and experience to go all the way with really little problems. In fact I think he’ll breeze and it’ll be a boring tournament. There’s no one even close to him in terms of consistency and resistance. The only one who clashes with his contemporary game is Andy Murray but he’s not coming to Australia strong in my opinion. Watch a very one sided grand slam

Women’s Winner: Serena Williams

I think she’ll have more competition than Nole. The woman’s tour has become extremely competitive and I mean extremely. We tend to boast about how strong and competitive the men’s game is but in the women’s anyone can beat anyone on any given day. These young girls have all trained from the very bottom to the top and believe it or not they all pretty much arise from the same areas / academies. The competition is wild. Sharapova, Azarenka, and younger girls like Bencic or Genie could trouble Serena, but she’s too hot to handle. She’ll win

Surprises:

If there was a surprise in the men’s were looking at Dimitrov who is beginning the year well despite a pretty mediocre 2015. Players who could go far too are Wawrinka and Tomic both with a lot of potential. No young boys this time. No one from the quali draw

In the women’s, Puig is looking good, Bencic could really go far too

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US Open: Shelby Rogers Delivers; Serena Still A Threat To Win 24th Major

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Serena Williams - US Open (photo Twitter @usopen)

After all of these years of playing in the U.S. Open, Shelby Rogers is finally a seeded player.

 

The Charleston, S.C., native has been playing America’s premier tennis event almost continuously since her debut in New York in 2010. She’ll turn 30 years old in a few weeks and has worked her way up the rankings to 31st in the world.

That’s a big achievement from the little girl who hung on the fences more than two decades ago to watch her older sister Sabra play high school matches that eventually led to an Al-American career for Sabra at Emory University. Sabra became a psychologist and, of course, is one of  Shelby’s biggest fans.

LOOK OUT FOR ROGERS?

Rogers took the direct route. She didn’t play high school tennis, but left the classroom before high school to train in tennis, study online and play the junior circuit. She turned pro in 2009 at age 16.

Monday evening at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center, It took Rogers awhile to start living up to her ranking. But once she turned the corner after dropping the first set in nine games, Shelby started looking like a seasoned top 30 player.

Rogers sort of blew The Netherlands’ slim Arantxa Rus away, taking a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory in the opening round of the U.S. Open. Rogers especially played the deciding 28th game of the match like the veteran pro she is. She hit one long forehand and netted one ball in that game, but otherwise she rode her big serve to victory in the clinching game. At 40-30, she delivered a huge first serve down the middle that Rus couldn’t put into play.

WOMEN’S RACE TO TOP PRIZE WIDE OPEN

The way things are on the women’s tour these days, with no true leader while once-amazing top-ranked Iga Swiatek tries to regain her dominance, anything is possible.

Yes, even finally a 24th Grand Slam title for Serena Williams.

But this is about Shelby Rogers. She is playing the best tennis of her career nearly a decade and a half after her life as a professional tennis player started.

With any kind of luck, Rogers could leave New York ranked among the top 25 players in the world, or maybe higher if she continues to serve and play the kind of big-ball tennis she played  in the last 19 games Monday night.

WHO’S NEXT IN LINE

So, what’s after Swiatek, who started the year on fire with a long unbeaten streak that went through the French Open and rewarded her with as many points as the confined totals of the Nos. 2 and 3 players. Of course, Ashleigh Barty’s retirement after winning the Australian Open opened the door for Swiatek’s rise to the top.

And then Wimbledon’s grass took care of Swiatek.

Nos. 2-5 Anett Kontaveit, Maria Sakkari, Paula Badosa and Ons Jabeur are all outstanding players, but none currently fit in the great column. They appear to be waiting in line for Swiatek or another Barty-like player to step forward to rule the women’s tour.

WHAT ABOUT UKRAINE’S DARIA!

Then there are almost totally unknown players such as Ukraine’s Daria Snigur. I hadn’t given Snigur much chance at all on the pro tour until her shocking U.S. Open first-round victory over multi-Grand Slam tournament winner and seventh-ranked Simona Halep. 

The last time I had thought about Snigur was when she upended Charleston’s Emma Navarro in the Junior Wimbledon semifinals and then won the Junior Grand Slam tournament.

At Junior Wimbledon in 2019, I thought Navarro, who also is now on the WTA Tour and is currently ranked 145th in the world, would roll past Snigur the way she had in the 2019 Junior French Open quarterfinals. But Snigur is so deceptive with her ground strokes that strike like lightning, she dominated Navarro at that Junior Wimbledon.

So, maybe the currently 124th-ranked Snigur may be ready to make a mark on the tour after scoring her first tour victory by defeating Halep.

NO NOVAK, BUT RAFA IS THERE

Without Novak Djokovic, the men are about as unpredictable as the women, with the exception of one player. Rafa Nadal, of course, entered this U.S. Open, with a perfect 19-0 record this year in Grand Slams.

Daniil Medvedev is the defending champion at the U.S. Open, but even though he is ranked No. 1 in the world, it’s a long road to the final for the Russian. Medvedev hasn’t always been predictable.

And already, No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas has been eliminated by a complete unknown, Daniel Elahi Galan.

Wow! The Greek star probably was about as much of a favorite as Medvedev.

And poor Dominic Thiem was cast on an outside court. And he lost. Just a couple of years ago, Thiem was winning the U.S. Open.

My top five picks in order would be: Nadal, Jannik Sinner, Nick Kyrgios, Medvedev and Andy Murray. Yes, Andy looks pretty fit.

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James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Will Rafael Nadal Keep The Grand Slam Winning Feeling Going In New York?

Rafael Nadal has injury doubts heading into his search for a 23rd grand slam title in New York.

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Rafael Nadal (@usopen - Twitter)

Rafael Nadal will look to repeat successes from Melbourne and Paris by answering his doubters with triumph in New York.

 

The Spaniard enters the last grand slam with injury doubts having only just come back from an abdominal injury suffered in his Wimbledon quarter-final against Taylor Fritz.

It was injury that saw his calendar grand slam dream come to an end and ever since then has been recovering in the hopes of finishing the grand slam year strong in New York.

However in his first match back Nadal was defeated in three sets to Borna Coric in New York which has put doubts on whether the Spaniard can be a threat in the US.

Nadal will likely not have to worry about Novak Djokovic but a victory in New York could see him be world number one with current number one Daniil Medvedev defending the title.

The likes of Medvedev, Carlos Alcaraz and Stefanos Tsitsipas will be standing in Nadal’s way and if the Spaniard isn’t match-fit then he could face an early exit.

However as tennis pundit Barbara Schett pointed out, ruling out Nadal at this stage would be foolish and the Spaniard always raises his level at the grand slams, “The match is always different from practice,” Schett told Eurosport.

“And whoever had an abdominal injury and a tear on the abdominal muscles knows how it feels. You have to be extremely cautious. You’re worried that you’re going to reinjure it again.

“And I think that’s what we’ve seen on Wednesday. When he played against Coric, he was a little bit uncertain how the body was going to hold up. And for sure he’s going to feel better and better.

“If there’s no damage to the abdominal muscle, then he still has a week and a half to improve his health, to improve the trust also that he can extend and he can’t bend on the serve because that’s the trickiest shot, the serve and the smash.

“When that is the case, Rafa Nadal certainly can be dangerous again at the US Open. I mean, he’s so fired up at every single Grand Slam. We’ve seen this year playing the best tennis of his life. You can never, ever write him off.”

Nadal is currently undefeated at grand slams and if fit, the Spaniard will certainly fancy himself to win another seven matches at the US Open this year.

Whatever it should be interesting to see if Nadal improves before the US Open with the tournament starting on the 29th of August.

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Does WTA Need A Top Rivalry To Drive The Sport?

Iga Swiatek is the WTA’s dominant world number one but does she need a rival in order to drive the sport to new heights.

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Iga Swiatek (@TennisHandshake - Twitter)

The WTA has a dominant world number one and a variety of talented players on the tour but the one thing it’s lacking at the moment is a top rivalry.

 

First of all it was supposed to be Bianca Andreescu and Naomi Osaka, then Ash Barty and Osaka and also Barty and Iga Swiatek.

However none of these match-ups created a top rivalry over a long period to generate an overwhelming amount of interest.

After Barty’s shock retirement, many people were left disappointed at the fact that her and current dominant world number one Iga Swiatek could not compete for the sport’s biggest titles in a fierce rivalry.

Now Swiatek sits at the top of the WTA rankings with almost a 4,000 point lead at the top. The rest of the field are very talented and that in itself is an intriguing aspect of the WTA’s appeal.

But the one thing the women’s game lacks is a top rivalry to generate a hype that the ATP clearly has right now.

As Mark Petchey said it’s an issue that needs solving soon as every sport has one, “Rivalries drive the sport. What they do is make sure that it manifests itself in a big polarisation of a large fan base, against another one,” Petchey was quoted as saying by Tennis365.

“You look across the board, over F1, look at the tribal nature of AFL, of Premier League football here. It’s a huge part of what you need to have a successful sport. That is the one thing that is missing from the women’s tour at the moment, is a superb rivalry, with a little bit of edge.

“That’s why I say I’m sad that Ash pulled up stumps, because I think that rivalry could’ve developed with Iga in that way. Would it have been quite as intense as the Rafa-Novak and Roger-Novak rivalries? Probably not. But it would have been there. Going into every major saying that you’re not looking forward to a specific clash potentially when the draw comes out, does hurt the tour a little bit. 

“You can’t keep saying ‘oh, anyone can win it’. Because you’re just not tagging anybody… you’re not setting the scene for something amazing that’s going to happen, a nice little volcanic eruption right at the back-end of a major. They need some people to be a bit more consistent and getting through, because that’s what will be a massive driver for the WTA.”

It’s hard to argue with those points of view from Petchey as rivalries are what are talked about for decades after players have retired.

It will be interesting to see whether Swiatek will continue to dominate the rest of the field or whether someone can build a rivalry with the Pole heading into the remainder of the season.

The next big WTA event of the year will take place at the Rogers Cup in Toronto on the week of the eighth of August.

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