Australian Open 2020: Top 5 contenders for the women's singles crown
The Australian Open is fast approaching and despite the uncertainty surrounding the tournament due to the air quality caused by the raging bushfires, it appears as though the first Grand Slam of the decade is going to go ahead as scheduled.
Whilst the men's singles draw is arguably more predictable, largely due to the dominance of the Big 3, the women's singles draw is a lot more open. Over the last decade, women's tennis hasn't boasted the of the 'Golden Era' that men's tennis has. Serena Williams ruled the game for the majority of it unchallenged and no one posed a real threat to her consistently.
Since her last title in 2017, however, the 23-time Grand Slam champion has seen her dominance vanish in front of her eyes, as other players have taken all of the spoils. Whilst no one has Williams' mantle just yet, the new generation lead by Naomi Osaka has begun to emerge, as indicated by the fact that all of the Grand Slams in 2019 was won by players under 30, with 3 of them being younger than 25.
However, Serena Williams won her first title in 2 years in Auckland and has given cause for many to argue that the American is a real contender to win a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title. Here's the list of top 5 contenders for lifting the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup.
Although Plíšková has been close to winning a Grand Slam, she has had to settle for being a losing finalist at the 2016 US Open. Nevertheless, she has been world number 1 and currently sits at number 2 in the rankings.
This has helped her position in the draw immensely and has arguably been drawn in the easier half of it, with Simona Halep being her most difficult task before the final. Additionally, her form has been very consistent in Melbourne since 2017 and the Czech tennis pro has reached at least the quarterfinals over this period, including reaching the semi-finals last year, where she lost to eventual champion, Naomi Osaka, in 3 close sets.
She looks more than capable of winning this year's Australian Open, but nevertheless, so do the other players on this list. Her draw undoubtedly boosts her chances to win the tournament, but she will more than likely face at least one of the other 4 in this article and will have a tough time defeating any of them.
Finally, although Plíšková recently beat Osaka in Brisbane, she is the only player on this list who has not won a Grand Slam and the psychological impact of this cannot be understated. Often players can get overwhelmed by the pressure and nerves of winning their maiden slam and this is another reason why she is not higher up on the list, despite being the second highest-ranked player in the world.