As I've written in previous posts, the Australian - long the forgotten stepchild among tennis's Majors - may well be my favorite. For starters, Southern Australia looks amazing in January. Most players are well-rested, having just come off tennis's skimpy off-season. The hard court surface is a happy middle ground between clay and grass. All courts have lights, so plenty of night tennis. Perhaps best of all, the Australian has two courts with retractable roofs. The time zone is a bummer from the Eastern US perspective but otherwise, Aussie has positioned itself very nicely as the Slam of the Future.
|via Shrewd Tennis|
The narrative in women's tennis is very different these days. When she is in top form, Serena Williams is not only the best player on tour, she's the greatest female athlete in the world. Case closed. Also 32, she seems as invincible as ever, last year becoming the oldest woman to be ranked #1 in the world. Every tournament is hers for the taking unless she finds a way to beat herself through injury or emotional meltdown. She has a history of ankle troubles Down Under so there's always a possibility someone else will snag the big paycheck. The best bet to do so is Victoria Azarenka of Belarus. Vika is the two-time defending champion, not usually the sort of player one would consider a long shot but such is the state of the sport in 2014.