Australian Open 2020: Analysing Serena Williams' chances of winning an eighth title at Melbourne
- Riding on the success of her win at the Auckland Open, Williams is heading into Melbourne as a hot favorite in the pursuit of her 24th slam
The season has started off on the right footing for 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams as she picked up her first title in 3 years at the 2020 Auckland Open. If that is to be taken as a sign for the coming days, then we had better brace ourselves for a full-fledged Serena show as she embarks in pursuit of her record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title and of course, another record eighth Australian Open Championships crown.
Entering as the eighth seed and the obvious hot favourite, Williams will be desperately hoping to equal Margaret Court's record which she has been in the long pursuit of ever since she bagged her 23rd Grand Slam in 2017 at the Australian Open, while being three weeks pregnant. After the long title-draught of 3 years, she has finally been able to jinx this spell by winning the inaugural edition of the Auckland Open, in the lead up to the Australian Open by producing a string of emphatic performances.
To be fair, the American has also enjoyed a good comeback season and even though she was not able to convert any of her last four Grand Slam finals into her 24th title, she has been relentlessly knocking at its gates which will give way anytime soon now. Williams had started her 2019 strong when she made a comeback appearance at the Australian Open after her 2017 win. She even took down the then World No.1 Simona Halep in the fourth round stages of the tournament before suffering an exit in the quarter-finals to Karolina Pliskova, after twisting her ankle in a hard-fought three-set match.
In the quest for a third Indian Wells crown, Serena Williams defeated former World No.1 Victoria Azarenka in the second round of the ATP Masters-level tournament. However, Williams' efforts were curbed by an ill-timed viral illness that caused her to retire against Spain's Garbine Muguruza. A knee-injury soon plagued her and caused her to skip the events in Miami and Rome after playing just one match. Williams could not produce a lasting performance at Roland Garros either and suffered a shock exit early in the third round.
Just when things began to dip in the season, the champion roused herself back up just in time to produce a vintage performance at the Wimbledon Championships. She did not break much sweat at the All England Club where she has previously claimed seven titles and went into the finals against Simona Halep. By making it to the finals, Serena became the oldest Grand Slam woman finalist in the Open Era. However, Serena has been struggling to convert the big matches, to be more precise, the Grand Slam finals and the Wimbledon final also followed in a similar fashion with Halep dictating the shots of the match and winning her career's second Grand Slam.
Following the conclusion of the grasscourt season, Williams was bothered by back problems which came in her way of producing her best tennis. Yet, she refused to be budged down by such issues and soon enough, she was making her greatness felt at the Flushing Meadows. Serena trailblazed her way into the finals of the US Open where she met Canadian youngster Bianca Andreescu. The teenager showed promise and gave the 38-year-old Williams a lot of trouble on-court and emerged as the better player to win her first-ever Grand Slam. She tried to make a comeback in the second set of the US Open finals by breaking Andreescu's serve, but the 24th title slipped away from her hands again.
With the Australian Open scheduled to begin from 20th January, Williams will be entering it with the hope of finally laying her hands on the 24th Grand Slam which has continued to elude her. Because of her Auckland Open win, her form is sharp at the start of the season. The win is a steady warrant of that fact. She will be a title favourite and get back to her winning ways and just maybe, in the spirit of jinxing title-droughts, she will break the agonising wait for her next Grand Slam Championship, the eighth Australian Open and the much sought-after 24th title on her mantle.