10 players to look out for in this year’s edition of the Australian Open 2018 tournament

Maria Sharapova’s return to competitive tennis and the legendary rivalry between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer continue to dominate the Australian Open. While the absence of Andy Murray and Serena Williams opens up the field considerably, we look at 10 players that are aiming to turn up the heat down under this year.

1. Roger Federer

The Swiss maestro, aka GOAT, is in sublime form this year. He’s in line to win his sixth Australian Open and his 20th overall Grand Slam title at the age of 36. As usual, he is the odds-on favourite at this edition!

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2. Simona Halep

World number one Simona Halep has worked hard on her fitness and enters the tournament as the top seed. Barring an injury scare, the 26-year-old Romanian has the potential to go all the way

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3. Rafael Nadal

A full-strength Nadal is a frightening opponent for most players, especially on hard courts. A clever mix of spin and power make the 31-year-old Spaniard one of the firm favourites to win this year’s title

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4. Caroline Wozniacki

The world number two player is a huge contender for this year’s title. The Danish sensation plays especially well on fast courts and has a fighting spirit that helps her pull off some amazing comebacks

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5. Novak Djokovic

Novak holds the highest career match win rate — a staggering 82.8%. Except for a lingering elbow injury, he is still in the draw to add a seventh Australian title to his kitty of 12 Grand Slam titles

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6. Maria Sharapova

The Russian former world number one is back from her 15-month doping ban and is out for blood. Her steely determination and powerful game will be a threat to most opponents. Discount her at your own peril!

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7. Grigor Dimitrov

The 26-year-old Bulgarian, nicknamed ‘Baby Fed’ early in his career, has crept up to number three in the ATP rankings, coming off an impressive win at the ATP World Tour Finals in London last year. As long as he maintains his consistency, a big opportunity awaits

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8. Caroline Garcia

Garcia had a strong 2017 which would instil confidence in the 24-year-old Frenchwoman. Her consistent groundstrokes and forehand coupled with accurate first and second serves make her opponents wary of her incredible skill

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9. Alexander Zverev

The 20-year-old German is an aggressive player with a strong serve and an excellent two-handed backhand. His precision at the net and work ethic has seen him beat both Federer and Djokovic last year

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10. Venus Williams

Currently ranked number five in the world, Venus is a seven-time Grand Slam winner. Along with her sister, she is credited with changing the women’s game with her power and athleticism. The 37-year-old American is still a force to reckon with!

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