Monday, January 9, 2012

Kvitova Favourite To Win A Wide Open Australian Open Ladies Crown

The ladies singles championship at this year’s Australian Open looks set to be one of the most open for years with injuries and loss of form likely to affect the outcome.

Defending champion, Kim Clijsters, has only just returned to the game after injury kept her out of the game for the latter half of 2011. However, she cannot claim to be 100% fit even now after she forced to withdraw from the recent Brisbane International semi final with a hip injury. By all accounts, it is only a minor setback and she will be lining up for the first round of the Open on Sunday but caution must be exercised about her chances of a repeat success.

Injury too has upset the preparations for five time champion Serena Williams, who twisted an ankle in the Brisbane event but she too claims she will be fit enough to play in Melbourne. The 30 year old in fact has been made the second favourite to win the tournament with odds of 4/1, whilst Clijsters is third in the betting at 8/1.

The 3/1 favourite to win in fact is Wimbledon champion, Petra Kvitova who has started 2012 in great form, producing some great tennis to help her country the Czech Republic defeat France in the final of the Hopman Cup. The 21 year old certainly made 2011 her breakthrough year winning a number of tournaments including Wimbledon and the prestigious end of season tour title in Istanbul in October. Her scintillating form earned her number two in the women's rankings at the end of last year and she has started this year as she means to go on. In the Hopman Cup she not only defeated world number three, Victoria Azarenka in the final but also world number one Carline Wozniacki in the semi final, underlining the fact that she is the one to beat in Melbourne and she is the one in top form ahead of the tournament.

Australian fans of course will be rooting for their Samantha Stosur, who helped put Australian tennis back on the map in 2011 with her victory in the final of the US Open where she beat Serena Williams. It was a wholly unexpected win although the plucky 27 year old has been ‘knocking on the door’ of the Grand Slam events in recent years. Indeed she reached the final of the French Open in 2010 only to lose to Italian Francesca Schiavone and has twice been into the 4th round in Melbourne.

It is interesting to note that the Bookies appear to have no faith in Wozniacki at all, despite her number one ranking in the world. This is because the Dane simply crumbles in the "Grand Slam" events and has only ever made one final which came at the US Open in 2009. She did make the semi final here last year and would certainly have the game to at least repeat that feat this time around, but winning a first ever ‘Grand Slam’ still looks a little beyond her.

Respect has to be shown to the likes of China’s Li Na, who was runner up 12 months ago before going on to win a first Grand Slam at the French Open in May. However, her form dipped alarmingly after that victory and she has shown only few signs that she is getting her act back together.

2008 winner, Maria Sharapova will also be playing in Melbourne and has to be among the genuine contenders to lift the crown. She showed throughout the 2011 season that she has re-discovered the zest to return to the top of the ladies game. She was a semi finalist at Roland Garros as well as runner up to Kvitova at Wimbledon and she is a decent looking bet at 14/1 to win the 2012 Australian Open.

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