Clijsters primed for back-to-back Slams
The overarching storylines on the WTA Tour as we embark on the first Grand Slam event of the year are fairly simple: How far can Justine Henin go? Is Kim Clijsters going to duplicate her U.S. Open efforts? And how will Serena Williams perform under the microscope after her blow-up at the U.S. Open?
It would take some gumption to predict anyone other than this triumvirate to win the Australian Open. But as the adage goes, that's why they play the game.
Our experts, though, take a crack at it with their predictions.
Australian Open women's predictions
|Bonnie D. Ford
ESPN.com tennis writer
ESPN.com tennis writer
Florida-based tennis writer
|Early Exit||A 2003 finalist, Venus Williams has reached the quarterfinals only once in her past five appearances here.||Rose swiftly a year ago, but Victoria Azarenka lacks big weapons and has never advanced past the fourth round at the Aussie.||Times keep getting tough for Jelena Jankovic, who just doesn't seem to be able to find the form that briefly led her to top of the WTA charts a couple of years ago.|
|Sleeper||Australia is like a second home for Ana Ivanovic, a 2008 finalist, and the perfect environment for tennis' Snow White to awaken from her long competitive slumber.||Technically outside the top 10, but no one would be terribly surprised if Kim Clijsters won the whole thing.||Justine Henin proved that she hasn't lost it by reaching the Brisbane final. Henin will go deep into the draw and could even win her eighth Grand Slam crown.|
|Winner||Can comeback lightning strike twice? If she's healthy, Justine Henin will be the freshest player in the field, armed with keen hunger and a certain mystique.||If fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters can do it in New York, why can't Justine Henin win out of the box in Melbourne?||Kim Clijsters is truly enjoying her second career and has always had a special bond with the land Down Under. Back-to-back Slam titles are not a stretch.|
Toronto-based tennis writer
London-based tennis writer
ESPN.com tennis editor
|Early Exit||Injury may have kept Dinara Safina from training fully in the offseason; don't expect a lengthy run Down Under.||Vera Zvonareva achieved her first Grand Slam semifinal in Melbourne a year ago. Unfortunately, her progress has been stunted by an ankle injury.||There's a discernible discord between Venus Williams and, well, any notable event not named Wimbledon.|
|Sleeper||It might be too early to go all the way for Justine Henin, but that's what we thought about Kim Clijsters at the U.S. Open.||Justine Henin needs a little more time to reach top form. That said, the latest comeback queen is already top-five caliber.||Don't expect Maria Sharapova's double-fault doldrums to halt a deep second-week run in a venue she dominated two years ago.|
|Winner||The second leg of Kim Clijsters' comeback will show whether the stellar form is for real.||Kim Clijsters is on a roll after winning the U.S. Open and overcoming nemesis Justine Henin in a nail-biter last week.||It's not an odd year, so there go Serena's chances. That leaves the door wide open for Kim Clijsters.|
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2010 AUSTRALIAN OPEN
Women's singles: Serena Williams, United States
Roger Federer, Switzerland
Men's doubles: Bob and Mike Bryan, United States
Women's doubles: Serena and Venus Williams, United States
Mixed doubles: Cara Black/Leander Paes
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