DAVENPORT: Three women can win the first major in Melbourne

Written by Richard Pagliaro | Tuesday, January 10, 2023

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If it wasn’t No. 1 Iga Swiatek, who would win the Australian Open? We asked this question to Lindsay Davenport, who cites three women who could win their first AO Grand Slam tournament.

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The Australian Open is the only Grand Slam tournament with retractable roofs covering three courts.

The perfect optic for contenders seeking to break through the flagship ceiling.

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Six of the last 12 women to lift Grand Slam titles have been first major champions, including Barbora Kryczkova (Roland Garros 2021), Emma Radukano (US Open 2021) and 2022 Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina.

2020 AO Champion Sofia Kenin is the latest woman to win the premier event in Melbourne.

US Open champion and Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek She is a strong favorite to win her third title in her last four Grand Slam matches in Australia.

After World No. 3 Jessica Pegula Break through any notion of Iga Invincibility crushing the world No. 1 in the United Cup.

Tennis Express

If it’s Swiatek, who wears bulls on her back as an obvious favorite, who could he collapse under?

We ask this question to Tennis Channel analyst and Hall of Famer Lindsay Davenport in a conference call with key contributors with the media to promote the channel’s Australian Open coverage. You can watch former world number one Davenport give her in-depth analysis every night of the Australian Open on TC Live starting at 5pm ET on Sunday, January 15th. full The Tennis Channel Australian Open schedule is here.

While leading doctor Ons Jabeur has shown reaching back-to-back slam finals at Wimbledon and the US Open, fierce form Pegula has shown sweeping swiatek in Sydney or leaping inside the base aggression of WTA Finals champion Caroline Garcia makes it all These three. A major female contender, Davenport did not take the rankings route with her picks.

Instead, Davenport cites three standout designers when she picked her potential breakthrough to win her first major in Melbourne.

Auckland champion Coco JoveAdelaide Champion 1 Arina Sabalenka and former Indian Wells champion Paula Badusa She picks Davenport among three contenders capable of winning their first major championship at Melbourne Park.

And the 18-year-old Gauff appeared to have had five straight losses to finish 2022 raising questions about her massive workload in singles and doubles, winning back forehands with her Western fist and doubts about her second serve.

Gauff came out of the box in Auckland with a statement to start the new season with a record five straight wins without dropping a set.

The Roland Garros finalist’s speed around the court, daring two-handed backhands already one of the best in the game, heavy serve, and her transitional game-playing and closing skills all make Gauff a good bet to break through and win. Davenport says he’s a senior.

“Listen, Coco Gauff is going to win a major championship,” said Davenport. “I said it at the beginning of last year: I thought it might have happened in 2022. It didn’t. It came close to the French Open.

“She’s so good that it’s hard to deny that this will happen. If what I’ve heard is true about the courts in Melbourne and they are a little slower, that will definitely help her. It will give her more time. I think the fast courts will be a bit more of a challenge for her.”

Davenport says that Gauff’s ability to play all-court tennis, combined with her athleticism, gives her game huge potential.

“I really think the sky’s the limit for her,” Davenport said of Goff. “Arc her potential, I think she can keep getting better for years.” “I think her game is good enough now. To get into the top 10 and establish herself there, that’s a big step forward, especially at her age. It’s not easy…

“Everything about her game just got better. The forehand, she can handle it really well sometimes. Obviously she’s not a big force at the moment, but I think her other strengths are on the court, her movement. I think her serve has gotten a lot, a lot better. More consistent. We didn’t notice the double flaws like we saw two years ago. You know she’s been working hard on it. Her backstroke is one of the best in the field.”

“You know what you do better than anyone: end points into the net. If she sees a short ball, she never backs off the pedal. A lot of players come into midfield, and they don’t have confidence in themselves or have that experience. That’s a big plus for her. “That ability. Smooth. Short ball, hit it, go forward. She has a lot of confidence in her shot to finish the points there. That’s going to earn her a lot of points.”

The explosive Sabalenka looked like a leader and never gave up a set to win her 11th career title in Adelaide. Giving more spin to her second serve, Sabalenka maintained her acceleration at the racket and didn’t suffer the blows of serve she endured in Adelaide last year.

While Sabalenka faced only one of Adelaide’s top 20 opponents –Lyudmila Samsonova– She defeated three top 10 players, including No. 1 Swiatek, on her way to the WTA Finals Fort Worth.

Sabalenka managed her nerves and served successfully in Adelaide. If she can do the same in Melbourne, Davenport sees both Belarusian and former Indian Wells champion Paula Badusa, both of whom are capable of first-stroke tennis essential to rule the Happy Slam.

World No. 11 Padosa defeated Jelena Ostapenko, Ajla Tomljanovic, gold medalist Belinda Bencic, Daria Kastakina and Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova to win the 2022 Sydney title and went on to reach the fourth round at the Australian Open.

“The women’s side, there are a number of players who can do that [win a maiden major],” said Davenport of Tennis Now. I still believe in Badusa. I think last year was a really tough year for her dealing with being a senior player for the first time. But I think she’s got a big head on her shoulders and played great and I think something great is going to happen to her as well.”

While Sabalenka has taken an ignominious light, shooting 39 double faults in a pair of Adelaide’s first losses of 2022, she managed her formidable power cleverly, for the most part, and appeared confident of an Adelaide win last weekend. Sabalenka is a three-time Grand Slam semi-finalist, including her consecutive appearances in the semi-finals of the US Open. Her best results in Melbourne are 16 consecutive matches.

Davenport points out that all the madness and turmoil Sabalenka has endured in recent years may make her strong enough to keep calm and hack for the big mastery at Melbourne Park.

“I think Sabalenka has got it together after going through all her trials and tribulations last year,” said Davenport. “I think it probably taught her a lot and maybe gave her a better understanding of her game.”

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