The world number one meets the world number two in this Australian Open final that truly pits the two players in this tournament who have been a cut above the rest of the competition. If their semi-final match at Wimbledon 2018 is anything to go by, this could be yet another classic.
This is the first meeting between Naomi Osaka and Petra Kvitova, with the match-winner not only claiming the Australian Open title, but the world number one spot. There are many logical factors to consider; Osaka has dropped three sets to Kvitova’s zero in this tournament, and spent almost two hours longer on court, including her much-harder semi-final with Kvitova’s compatriot Karolina Pliskova.
This battle between these two Grand Slam winners looks set to be a classic, with both playing wonderful tennis en-route to the final. Kvitova’s form has been rock solid all tournament, breezing into the final without dropping a set and showing a steely determination to win her first Grand Slam since suffering an horrific attack in 2016.
Lucas Pouille has been the surprise package of this year’s tournament after shock wins against higher ranked opposition such as Coric and Raonic on the way to his first-ever Grand Slam semi-final
This battle between Serena Williams’ recent conquerors will be a baseline slog, with two incredibly fit and dogged athletes in Karolina Pliskova and Naomi Osaka both seeking their first Australian Open final.
Whilst Karolina Pliskova has beaten Serena Williams before, the American is in as determined a mood as ever to put herself at the top of the all-time singles winners with this Australian Open and just one more Grand Slam title.
Nearly-man Kei Nishikori has been a consistent top ten player for much of the second half of this decade, but he has never progressed from the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, nor any Grand Slam apart from the US Open, and his 17 matches played with Djokovic speaks volumes about his chances.
A tough match to call here, with both players riding their own personal winds of change and both coming through particularly hard-fought previous rounds. If there is something to be said of these two matching up for the first time, it is that despite the age gap, it may be Stefanos Tsitsipas who has the mental edge over his opponent.
An upset could well be on the cards in this quarter-final clash between a next generation top 10 candidate in Frances Tiafoe and one of the greatest ever, Rafael Nadal. The young American is in the form of his life, and his star is rising just like fellow youngster Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Roger Federer in the fourth round.
Having won the Australian Open six times, which is his most at any one Grand Slam, Novak Djokovic will be deadly serious about this year’s competition following his resurgence via the Wimbledon and US Open titles in 2018. Denis Shapovalov is an exciting prospect as a top 50 teenager and a left-hander, and will look to emulate Sascha Zverev’s emphatic win over the world number one in London back in November.
Attention must be paid to American Taylor Fritz, as the 21-year-old is clearly learning his game and climbing up the ranks with some impressive wins on tour. His win over Gael Monfils was nothing short of emphatic, and showed mental toughness in coming through two tie-breaks.
Betting against Serena Williams to do anything other than win everything is a fool’s game, as the most successful tennis player in history enters her 25th professional season in search of her 24th Grand Slam singles title.
It will be a shame to have met so early in the draw for the loser of this second round tie, having both gone through a difficult spell within the last year and now coming back into form. It is easy to forget Wawrinka’s pedigree; he is a three-time Grand Slam champion after all, but his recent surgeries have started to spell the end of his career at the top of the game.
A second round Grand Slam tie on home soil for Australian Matt Ebden must be the stuff of dreams, and his fight from insignificance to the top 50 in recent years deserves nothing less. However, his opponent is Rafa Nadal, who’s greatest foe at a Grand Slam before the semi-finals is his own fitness.