Australian Open 2019: 4 Asian players to watch out for
A few years ago, the Australian Open renamed itself to "the Grand Slam of the Asia Pacific". And in recent times, the Happy Slam has garnered a lot of attention from the Asia Pacific - in terms of both spectators and players.
Tennis didn't kick off as a popular sport in Asia for a long time. Some argued that learning tennis is a costly affair, while others cited the unsuitable physique of Asians for the game. Another common stance was that Asians subscribed to team sports more than individualistic ones.
While that last bit may seem true, we must then ask ourselves: if Asians say yes to badminton, why not tennis?
But 2018 was a turning point, with Japan's Naomi Osaka's stunning victory at the US Open going hand in hand with Kei Nishikori's continued qualification to the ATP Finals. That leads Asians to be hopeful about this year; could this Australian Open truly become the "Happy Slam" for Asians?
Let us take a look at 4 players from the continent who could make a big splash at this year's opening Slam:
#4 Wang Qiang
China's brightest ray of hope, Wang displayed her potential with her straight-sets victory over former World No. 1 Venus Williams in the first round of the 2018 French Open. She also emerged victorious in her match against Karolina Pliskova, also a former World No. 1, at the China Open.
Wang won the gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games, and her diligence and calm attitude on the court have earned praise from Chinese spectators across the world. Her brilliant victories at crucial games in the Hong Kong Tennis Open and the 2018 Elite Trophy led her to her highest world ranking of No. 20.
Wang is seeded 21st in this year's line-up for the women's singles tournament. Could she be the next Li Na? Only time will tell.