2014 Women’s Australian Open Tennis Preview

2014 Women’s Australian Open Tennis Championship
Melbourne Park – Melbourne, Australia
Playing Surface: Rebound Ace (hard)
Sunday, January 12 – Saturday, January 25, 2014, TV: ESPN2, Tennis Channel 
Two Time Defending Champion: Victoria Azarenka
All odds courtesy of 5Dimes Sportsbooks

Serena Williams is a heavy favorite to win the 2014 Australian Open.
Serena Williams is a heavy favorite to win the 2014 Australian Open.

Another grand slam tennis season gets underway Sunday evening as the Australian Open starts in Melbourne. The extreme heat in the Australian summer is always a factor, but it could be even worse this year with temps in the low 100’s and high humidity.

We looked at the Men’s bracket in another article, but now let’s take a look at the Women’s side. Here are some of the contenders with odds to win their section of the bracket and the tournament courtesy of 5 Dimes. Winning the section means advancing to the semifinals.

Serena Williams (-700 section, -147 tournament)

Serena Williams is 32 years old but she might be playing some of the best tennis of her career. She is 4-0 so far in 2014 with a title at Brisbane beating Victoria Azarenka in the final. Last year she went 78-4 with 11 titles, including wins at both the French and U.S. Opens.

Serena has 17 grand slam titles including 5 Australian Open titles. She hasn’t won here since 2010 though. Last year, she was upset in the quarterfinals by Sloane Stephens. Serena was also eliminated in the fourth round at Wimbledon by grass court specialist Sabine Lisicki. That loss ended a career long 34 match winning streak for Williams.

Williams is the #1 seed here. Seeded players in her section include #31 Daniela Hantuchova, #17 Sam Stosur, #14 Ana Ivanovic, #12 Roberta Vinci, #18 Kirsten Flipkens, #30 Eugenie Bouchard, and #7 Sara Errani. Notable non-seeded players include Heather Watson, Madison Keys, Vera Zvonareva, Laura Robson, and Julia Georges. The section is a little tough but nothing Serena shouldn’t be able to handle. She should breeze to the semis to likely face either Na Li, Petra Kvitova, or Angelique Kerber. Last year, Williams badly sprained her ankle in her first round match and wasn’t 100%. If she is able to stay healthy there is no reason why she shouldn’t win her sixth Australian title.

Victoria Azarenka (-225 section, +600 tournament)

Azarenka is 24 from Belarus. She is 3-1 in 2014, losing to Serena Williams in the final in Brisbane. She went 43-9 in 2013 with 3 titles, including her second straight Australian Open title.

Azarenka has never won any other major besides her two Aussie titles. She made it to the semifinals at the French, lost in the second round at Wimbledon, and lost to Serena in the finals of the U.S. Open.

Azarenka is the #2 seed at the Australian Open. Seeded players in her section include #5 Agnieszka Radwanska, #29 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, #24 Kaia Kanepi, #10 Caroline Wozniacki, #13 Sloane Stephens, #19 Svetlana Kuznetsova, and #33 Bojana Jovanovski. Azarenka could face a tough match in the fourth round against Stephens, and in the quarters against either Radwanska or Wozniacki. I think Azarenka survives a tough section, and could face Maria Sharapova in the semis.

Maria Sharapova (-150 section, +1485 tournament)

Sharapova is 26 from Russia. She is 2-1 in 2014 after losing to Serena in the semis at Brisbane. Sharapova was 37-7 in 2013 with 2 titles.

Sharapova has 4 grand slam titles, including one of each. She won the Australian in 2008. She has been the runner-up here twice including in 2012. She made it to the semifinals in  Melbourne in 2013. Sharapova was the runner-up at the French to Serena and lost in the second round at Wimbledon. Sharapova missed the U.S. Open with a shoulder injury.

Sharapova is the #3 seed here. Seeded players in her section include #8 Jelena Jankovic, #32 Magdelena Rybarikova, #21 Sorana Cirstea, #11 Simona Halep, #16 Carla Suarez-Navarro, #20 Dominika Cibulkova, and #25 Alize Cornet. Notable non-seeded players include Andrea Petkovic, Varvara Lepchenko, Vania King, and Francesca Schiavone. Sahrapova’s section is tough but isn’t as tough as Azarenka’s. Jankovic or Halep could provide a challenge in the quarters.

Na Li (+200 section, +1500 tournament)

Li is 31 from China. She is 5-0 in 2014 with a win in Shenzhen, China. Li went 44-14 in 2013 with one title.

Li won the 2011 French Open title for her only major. However, she was the runner up at the Aussie in 2011 and 2013. Li was upset in the second round at the French, lost in the quarters at Wimbledon, and the semis at the U.S. Open.

Li is the fourth seed at the Australian Open. Seeded players in her section include #26 Lucie Safarova, #22 Ekatrina Makarova, #15 Sabine Lisicki, #9 Angelique Kerber, #23 Elena Vesnina, #28 Flavia Pennetta, and #6 Petra Kvitova. Notable non-seeded players include Kimiko Date-Krumm, Venus Williams, Irina Falconi, Shahar Peer, Yanina Wickmayer, and Mona Barthel. This is a very tough section, and I am not sure if Li survives it.

Petra Kvitova (+250 section, +2700 tournament)

Kvitova is 23 from the Czech Republic. She is 2-1 in 2014 and lost in the semifinals at Sydney. Kvitova went 49-21 in 2013 with one win.

Kvitova won Wimbledon in 2011. Her best performance at the Australian came in 2012 when Kvitova went to the semifinals. Last year, Kvitova made it to the quarters at Wimbledon, but did not advance past the third round in any other major. She was upset in the second round in Melbourne last year.

Kvitova is the #6 seed and is in Li’s section of the draw. Kvitova has a shot at making the semis, but she is a better grass player than on hard courts.

Angelique Kerber (+500 section, +5800 tournament)

Kerber  is from Germany and will turn 26 next week. Kerber is 6-2 in 2014. She lost in the quarters at Brisbane and in the final at Sydney. She won won title in 2013.

Kerber has never made it past the semifinals of any major. She has never made it past the fourth round at the Australian Open. Last season, Kerber was eliminated by the fourth round in all four majors. She had her best ever performance in Melbourne making it to the fourth round.

Kerber is the #9 seed and is in the same loaded section as Li and Kvitova. I like Kerber to break through and make the semifinals.

Simona Halep (+700 section, +6600 tournament)

Halep is 22 from Romania. Halep had a breakthrough season in 2013 with her first six wins of her career. She got off to a slow start in 2014 losing her only match in the first round at Sydney.

Halep has never made it past the fourth round of a major. She made it to the third round in her Australian Open debut in 2011. However, she lost in the first round here the last two years.

Halep is the #11 seed and is in Sharapova’s section. Halep is a bright up and coming star, and she has a chance to at least make the quarters.

Other contenders and their odds to win the tournament include Radwanska (+6800), Stephens (+7000), Stosur (+7500), and Jankovic (+9000).

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