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Leading Australian Open women’s contenders


HOW THE LEADING WOMEN’S CONTENDERS SHAPE UP FOR THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN STARTING ON MONDAY:

ASH BARTY (AUS)

Age: 25

Ranking: 1

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US21,665,851

Career titles: 14

Grand slam titles: 2 (French Open 2019; Wimbledon 2021)

Australian Open win-loss record: 17-8

Best Australian Open result: semi-finalist 2020

Her serving untouchable, the local favourite has started 2022 on fire with a scintillating run to a second Adelaide International title and with the draw depleted will never get a better chance to win the Open.

ARYNA SABALENKA (BLR)

Age: 23

Ranking: 2

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US9,723,590

Career titles: 10

Grand slam titles: 0

Australian Open win-loss record: 5-4

Best Australian Open result: fourth round 2021

The big-hitting Belarusian is seeded to meet Barty in the final but will need to lift her game dramatically to even make the second week. Yet to win a match this year after two shockers in Adelaide.

NAOMI OSAKA (JPN)

Age: 23

Ranking: 14

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US19,896,456

Career titles: 7

Grand slam titles: 4 (Australian Open 2019, 2021; US Open 2018, 2020)

Australian Open win-loss record: 21-3

Best Australian Open results: champion 2019, 2021

The Japanese superstar’s four majors have all come on hardcourts but it’s hard to predict how the two-time champion will fare following a turbulent second half of 2021 punctuated by poor results and a mental health break.

GARBINE MUGURUZA (ESP)

Age: 28

Ranking: 3

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US24,006,672

Career titles: 10

Grand slam titles: 2 (French Open 2016; Wimbledon 2017)

Australian Open win-loss record: 26-9

Best Australian Open result: finalist 2020

The resurgent former world No.1 and winner of the WTA Finals in November had loomed as Barty’s greatest threat until a shock straight-sets loss to Daria Kasatkina in her final tune-up match in Sydney.

BARBORA KREJCIKOVA (CZE)

Age: 26

Ranking: 4

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US6,617,132

Career titles: 3

Grand slam titles: 1 (French Open 2021)

Australian Open win-loss record: 2-2

Best Australian Open results: second round 2020, 2021

The one-time doubles specialist turned French Open singles champion and most improved player on tour is a completely different customer to the old model who has yet to make an impact at Melbourne Park.

SIMONA HALEP (ROM)

Age: 30

Ranking: 15

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US37,982,116

Career titles: 23

Grand slam titles: 2 (French Open 2018; Wimbledon 2019)

Australian Open win-loss record: 28-11

Best Australian Open result: finalist 2018

With a drought-breaking title at her season-opening event in Melbourne, the five-times grand slam finalist showed she is hopefully over the glut of leg injuries that forced the ex-No.1 to miss the bulk of 2021.

BEST OUTSIDER

VICTORIA AZARENKA (BLR)

Age: 32

Ranking: 25

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US33,798,851

Career titles: 21

Grand slam titles: 2 (Australian Open 2012, 2013)

Australian Open win-loss record: 39-11

Best Australian Open results: champion 2012, 2013

With two titles at Melbourne Park and three US Open final appearances, the Belarusian is the second-most accomplished hardcourt player in the draw and free-rolling in her second career since becoming a mother.



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