ESPN recently named Simona Halep as one of the most dominant athletes of 2018.
Many have debated whether the diminutive Romanian was in fact, dominant. In a head-scratcher, she was ranked as more dominant than LeBron James of the NBA as well as golfer Brooks Koepka and fellow tennis player Novak Djokovic, both of whom won two of the four major titles for the year in a golf and tennis, respectively.
In fact, the great thing about women’s tennis over the last few years is the fact that there hasn’t been any dominant player and that each major tournament has been an exciting battle for the title, waged between eight to 12 players who have legitimate chances of raising the championship trophy.
As the world No. 1, Halep can be seen as the favorite to win the first major championship of 2019 at the Australian Open. However, she has only broken through in a major final once, last year at Roland Garros against Sloane Stephens. Last year in Australia, she lost a hard-fought, tight final to Caroline Wozniacki, but was resilient and tenacious in reaching the final.
The major wildcard in this year’s Australian Open field will be Serena Williams, who will be playing in her first tournament since her much-discussed U.S. Open loss to Naomi Osaka. She hasn’t played in Australia since she won the title, while pregnant, in 2017, her last event before giving birth to daughter Olympia. Serena will be gunning for her 24th career major singles title, which would tie her for the all-time record set by Australian Margaret Court in the 1960s and 1970s. The Australian Open would be an appropriate venue for Serena to equal this mark. She will be extra motivated to right the wrong she felt she was given in her controversial U.S. Open final loss where point and game penalties, she felt, where wrongly administered.
Serena will probably be one of the more popular tennis betting favorites to win in Australia. Since the tournament comes so early in the year – and after the short off-season – unpredictable results are also common. Therefore, some longer-shot players, with potential to win majors, should also not be overlooked, such as American Madison Keys, a former Australian Open semifinalist, the highly-touted Aryna Sabalenka or even home-favorite Ashleigh Barty of Australia.