Australian Open

Players to watch at Australian Open

 

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What: 2014 Australian Open.

When: Monday-Jan. 26.

Where: Melbourne Park; Melbourne, Australia.

Men’s defending champions: Novak Djokovic (singles); Mike and Bob Bryan (doubles).

Women’s defending champions: Victoria Azarenka (singles); Roberta Vinci, Sara Errani (doubles).

TV: ESPN, ESPN2, Tennis Channel.


Men

Novak Djokovic: He has won three Australian Opens in a row and made three of the past four Grand Slam finals. The courts in Melbourne best suit the Serb’s powerful baseline game.

Rafael Nadal: The top-ranked Spaniard won the French Open and U.S. Open last season, and he’d love to knock off Djokovic on his favorite surface.

Andy Murray: Won the 2012 Olympic gold medal and last year’s Wimbledon title, ending a 77-year British drought, but he is just getting back in shape after September back surgery.

Roger Federer: The 17-time Grand Slam champ hasn’t won one since Wimbledon 2012 and reached only one Slam final since them. At 32, he is still hungry to get back into the mix with the top three.

David Ferrer: He’s No. 3 in the world and cannot be discounted, but Australia doesn’t suit Ferrer’s game.

Others: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Juan Martin del Potro, Gael Monfils, John Isner.

Women

Serena Williams: The undisputed queen of women’s tennis has won five Australian Opens, 17 Grand Slams, went 78-4 last year and is riding a 22-match win streak, which includes recent wins over Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka in Brisbane, Australia.

Victoria Azarenka: As the two-time defending champion, she is expected to go far. But if she runs into Williams, watch out.

Sloane Stephens: This 20-year-old Plantation native shocked the world by beating her idol Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals last year. She lost to Azarenka in the semis but is America’s other great hope and has the game to go far.

Maria Sharapova: She has won every Grand Slam title and is a fierce competitor, but has struggled with an ailing shoulder.

Li Na: The two-time Australian runner-up can never be counted out.

Others: Petra Kvitova, Angelique Kerber, Ana Ivanovic, Agniezska Radwanska.

Read more Tennis stories from the Miami Herald

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