The Australian Open kicks off January 19th and we hope to see Maria Sharapova defend her title after months of rehab for a bum shoulder. She recently pulled out of Hong Kong – a popular tune-up tourney for the AO but claims she’ll be ready for Melbourne.
Although Sharapova won’t be competing, a number of other players will be in Hong Kong including Venus Williams, Jelena Jankovic and Sania Mirza each representing their region in team play.
World number one Jelena Jankovic should be feeling good – she just received her own star in the sky called JJ. It’s shining in the SC2 Hercules constellation of North polar region and was acquired by her sponsor Knjaz Milos and its brand Aqua Viva water who wanted to show how much they admire her. JJ, as you remember, ended 2008 with the top ranking despite the fact that she didn’t win a Grand Slam title last year.
Also prepping for the Australian Open is top seed Ana Ivanovic who made her eagerly anticipated debut on Pat Rafter Arena for the first night session ever at the Queensland Tennis Centre. She’s been training in Australia for a couple of weeks but got off to a shakey start barely making it through the first round of the Brisbane International. Ivanovic reached the Australian Open final last season and held the No. 1 ranking for part of the year. In other first round Brisbane play, former world No.1 Amelie Mauresmo narrowly beat Jelena Dokic 7-6 (9) 7-6 (5).
Who else is on the radar this Grand Slam season? Well this just may be the year for Dinara Safina. A break-out player of 2008, the Russian Safina ended the season at a career high WTA rank of #3. When she’s on, she’s unstoppable and when she’s not, she’s liable to either self-destruct or play some of the biggest come-back points you’ve ever seen.
Before the Australian Open begins, Safina is teaming up with her equally vitriolic brother, Marat Safin, for mixed doubles at Australia’s Hopman Cup. The dynamic brother-sister duo got off to a winning start downing Italy 2-1 on Sunday’s Session 2.
So, with all this activity, don’t despair that the holiday season is over. With tennis time here, there’s lots more happiness and good cheer.