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5 things to look forward to at the Australian Open

FEATURED COLUMNIST
Top 5 / Top 10
840   //    12 Jan 2016, 20:36 IST

The year's first Grand Slam, the Australian Open, commences on the 18th of January, and has seen several smaller tournaments in the lead up to the tournament in Melbourne.It's the final tournament for local player and former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, who will be retiring from professional tennis at the end of the Open.World No. 1  Novak Djokovic won all but one Slam last year, and has been in strong enough form that he looks all set to continue the trend. For now, his only serious challengers look to be the other three in the Big Four - and each of them bar Wawrinka has gone down to Djokovic, most recently and ignominously Rafael Nadal, who was breadsticked by the Serb and went down in straight sets to kick off what he described as his 'comeback year.'But Big Four aside, here are some matches we could look forward to:

#5 Some big upsets

Belinda Bencic 2016

18-year-old Belinda Bencic is 14th ranked and a giant slayer

Several upstart young women's players have shown immense potential in 2015, and look set to rule once the current guard let up - or perhaps even challenge them as some of these youngsters have done.

Taking over from an old Swiss Miss, Belinda Bencic has shown she can hold her own against just about any opponent. At only 18-years-old, Bencic is already in the top 15 and things are only looking up for her from here.

She’s had a big year on the WTA circuit, and even managed a fourth round finish at the US Open last year, although she has not progressed beyond the second round in Melbourne.

Bencic has pulled off major upsets last year – over former World No. 1s Caroline Wozniacki, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic – in addition to defeating reigning No. 1 Serena Williams. She has also defeated a long list of top-10 players besides them, a number of those victories in straight sets.

With her immense talent and potential, Bencic could even be a title challenger.

Elsewhere, American upstart Sloane Stephens, who has earlier taken victories over both Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, last year beat Carla Suarez-Navarro and Karolina Pliskova. Could she be a thorn in Serena’s side?


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FEATURED COLUMNIST
Tennis, Formula One, motorsports and running editor at Sportskeeda. Serious F1 enthusiast and data collector, Senna fan, swimmer, runner and musician. Contactable at: anuradha@sportskeeda.com
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