Published: Fri, January 11, 2019
Sports | By Johanna Francis

Australian Open: History beckons as Serena shoots for Slam history

Australian Open: History beckons as Serena shoots for Slam history

The last eight Grand Slam titles have been won by different players and the women's game is searching for a player to sustain dominance as Serena Williams has done in the past.

The popular 21-year-old's US Open triumph was overshadowed by Serena Williams' tantrum in the final at Flushing Meadows but Osaka has the opportunity in Melbourne to demonstrate she can withstand the spotlight of being the new standard bearer for tennis in Japan, Asia and the next generation of women.

As far as the final match is concerned, in-form Angelique Kerber of Germany could be Williams' opponent.

"When you have a target on your back it's not easy because everyone wants to play their best against you and beat you", she said.

"It's yet another chapter in the incredible story of Serena Williams", ESPN tennis analyst and former professional Patrick McEnroe said about Williams' U.S. Open episode.

Serena Williams, the 16th seed, will take on Tatjana Maria in her first match of the year's first Grand Slam tournament.

She warmed up for Melbourne by making the semi-finals of the Brisbane International last week, where she blamed a poor attitude for losing to Lesia Tsurenko.

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"I never feel pressure to perform".

Murray, a five-time finalist at Melbourne Park, spent most of a year ago recuperating from hip surgery and looked rusty last week in Brisbane, but declared himself pain free.

She needs just one more Grand Slam title to sit tied with Margaret Court for the all-time lead at 24.

The 28-year-old Dane insists she can manage the debilitating auto-immune condition, which sometimes leaves her so exhausted she cannot raise her arms above her head. The Belarussian surged up the WTA rankings past year, winning her first two titles and ending it just outside the top 10 and arrived in Melbourne fresh from winning in Shenzhen.

World No. 1 Simona Halep of Romania comes into the tournament under a fitness cloud after a nagging back injury curtailed her 2018 season. "I see hunger and I see boldness", 18-times major singles champion Evert said in a conference call looking ahead to the Australian Open.

At 37 years 172 days Federer would become the first man to win 5 Grand Slam titles after turning 30.

But the 20-year-old Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus has zoomed up the rankings from 73rd at the start of 2018 to number 11 on the back of tournament wins in New Haven and Wuhan, and is a dark horse to emulate Osaka and achieve a maiden Grand Slam.

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