Published: Fri, January 11, 2019
Sport | By Tony Jimenez

Simona Halep to face Kaia Kanepi in Australian Open

Simona Halep to face Kaia Kanepi in Australian Open

Novak Djokovic will be looking to break a three-way tie for the most victories in Melbourne.

Chris Evert describes trying to pick a women's singles champion at this month's Australian Open as a "crapshoot" but the American says 20-year-old Aryna Sabalenka, one of many names being thrown into the mix, must be taken seriously.

"But being number one is something you should embrace and be proud of".

In her comeback year, she reached the finals of both Wimbledon and the US Open.

Federer, however, continues to defy the odds at 37 and prepared for his title defence with some convincing performances in the Hopman Cup in Perth last week.

"That will overshadow everything at the end of the day. She's the one that we need to watch I think for this year".

"Coming back as defending champion, it's something I always dreamed of".

Serena Williams is back in Melbourne as hot favorite to repeat her 2017 Australian Open win and claim a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam with rivals, including defending champion Caroline Wozniacki, battling health issues and poor form.

Halep finally broke her Grand Slam duck in 2018 with French Open glory, but the Romanian crashed out of the first round in NY when losing 6-2 6-4 to Kanepi.

World No. 1 Simona Halep of Romania comes into the tournament under a fitness cloud after a nagging back injury curtailed her 2018 season.

Wozniacki proved she can still compete by winning in Beijing in October but whether she can cope with the gruelling two-week slog of a Grand Slam remains to be seen, and she was bundled out of the Auckland Classic last week in round two. Nadal is looking to become the first man in the Open Era to win each of the 4 Grand Slam titles twice.

Williams missed her first chance to match Court when losing last year's Wimbledon final to Angelique Kerber, and said ahead of the Australian Open that she was taking nothing for granted.

Williams is no stranger to such confrontations but the incident, during which she called Ramos a "liar" and a "thief" and said he treated her differently than male players during her loss to Osaka, divided the tennis world. The 21-year-old Japanese, however, had an inconsistent build up to the year's first grand slam.

"In general, it's about her offensive game", Rittner told Deutsche Welle of the three-time Grand Slam champion who lost an agonising, breathless semi-final 9-7 in the final set to Halep in Melbourne a year ago.

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