Monday, January 17, 2022 – Sunday, January 30, 2022
The Australian Open 2022 is here. It has been 12 months since we saw the reigning champions Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka take the trophy home with them. However, the Australian Open will definitely be different as Victorian premier Daniel Andrews put his stance down that no unvaccinated players would be eligible to participate in the tournament.
This has brought a lot of attention to Novak Djokovic since it hasn’t been announced whether Novak is vaccinated, which leaves his position in the Australian Open uncertain.
Novak has been added to the entry list, but it’s a waiting game for now. Novak has a lot to gain by entering and winning this Grand Slam as he’s currently equal with Rodger Federer and Rafael Nadal for most Grand Slam wins recorded—all three champions are on 20. If Novak were to win this Grand Slam, he would also become the sole leader at 21 Grand Slam wins.
World number two Daniil Medvedev will try to get back into the shape he had when he beat the number one at the US Open. There will be a few other top seed players, too, that could make an impact, particularly if Novak does not end up taking the court.
Stefanos Tsitsipas, ranked world’s number four, does not have a great end to the year of 2021. He hasn’t beat a top ten player for quite a while, and he’s struggling to get in good shape. At the same time, Stefanos has a good record at the Australian Open and seems always to find shape when he needs it.
Stefanos made the semi-final in his last appearance at the Australian Open, where he went down to now the world number two Daniil Medvedev in three easy sets. No doubt, though, that Stefanos would have been fatigued from his previous match where he beat Nadal in a grueling five-set workout.
If the matches fall Stefanos’s way, he has the potential to make it to the final.
Daniil Medvedev was ranked world number four this time last year and is now ranked number two. He’s been one of the most consistent players in 2021. Daniil seems to be making the final in all events, but coming up against world No. 1, he just falls short.
His most recent event was winning the ATP World Tour Finals. Later, Daniil was runner-up to Novak Djokovic at the Paris Masters, and earlier this year, he tore up the court when he beat the world No. 1 at the US Open.
While it’s uncertain if Novak is going to play in the upcoming tournament, all the chips seem to be stacked in Daniil’s favor, and he’s a clear favorite to win the Australian Open 2022.
The crowd favorite in Australia is Rafael Nadal. Rafael will be making his first return since August, when he suffered a foot injury.
Prior to his injury Rafael was showing some great shape at the French Open. A six-month hiatus will definitely test his fitness, but Rafael is one of the top three holding the record for the most Grand Slams. He might well become the sole leader over Federer and Novak.
If fit, Rafael could get the crowd off their feet and make a surge towards the finals.
Zverev has recently won the ATP World Tour, made the semi-finals at the Paris Masters, and won the Vienna Open. It is clear that Alexander has been similar in shape to Daniil Medvedev and will be looking to capture his first Grand Slam.
Alexander last played world No. 1 Novak Djokovic at the US Open, where he was beaten after putting up a good fight in a five-set match. At the Australian Open last year, Zverev also came up against Novak in the quarter final, where he lost in four sets.
Alexander Zverev has the skills to beat anyone but just needs to put in a full game from the first set to the last.
The women’s side looks a bit more exciting than the men’s, as the field seems to be a bit more open, and the title of the Australian Open winner could go literally to anyone.
Serena Williams has been making the headlines over the past week, as she won’t be playing in the tournament due to medical advice. However, a lot of eyes will be on the current world No. 1 Ash Barty who’s also had a fair share of injuries.
A late withdrawal has been Karolina Pliskova who has just announced a hand injury.
Ash Barty was knocked out of last year’s Australian Open by Karolina Muchova, ranked world’s No. 25, which was seen as one of the upsets of the tournament. This did open the doors up to Naomi Osaka who claimed her fourth Grand Slam.
Naomi Osaka is the reigning champion for both the Australian Open and the US Open.
Let’s look at some of the women playing fields.
Ash Barty will be fighting in her own backyard to win her first-ever Australian Grand Slam. Ash won two Grand Slams, first in 2019 at the French Open and second at Wimbledon earlier in 2021.
Ash has not played since September which could test her match fitness, but with her daily training this should not affect her game play. Ash has had her sights on finally winning at home for a while now, and there is a reason why Ash is the favorite.
In 2018, Aryna Sabalenka and Ash Barty made their first single match against each other at the Australian Open. Four years later, these two amazing athletes are now ranked No. 1 and No. 2 and seem to find themselves battling one another in most finals.
Aryna has been in some outstanding shape towards the end of 2021, making the semi-finals in both Grand Slams at Wimbledon and the US Open. She also won the doubles at the Australian Open last year. With what looks like a new focus on her singles performance, it seems that we will see the classic final of Ash Barty vs. Aryna Sabalenka.
The reigning champion will look to go back to back and claim her third Australian Open title. Naomi has won her last six matches out of ten but has slowly been moving down the ranks. Naomi is currently ranked world No. 13 but was world-ranked No. 3 when winning the Australian Open last year.
Naomi did pull out of the French Open earlier this year to take some time for herself. This time off could’ve been the right call, as she’s coming into this Grand Slam with a fresh mind.
Will Novak make an appearance? Without the world No. 1 on the court, Men’s tennis will definitely be exciting to watch. If Novak plays, he has all the chances to break the record and become the sole leader of most Grand Slams ever won. But if he does not enter the game, Daniil Medvedev would become the favorite. Keep an eye on Rafael Nadal, too.
When it comes to Women’s, the stage is set for Ash Barty to win her first Australian Open at home. However, there will be plenty of pressure coming from world number two Aryna Sabalenka and reigning champion Naomi Osaka.
Men’s 2022 winner – Daniil Medvedev
Women’s 2022 winner – Ash Barty