Monday, January 17, saw the 2011 Australian Open kick off in Melbourne, Australia. Two rounds are already underway, with a flurry of pro tennis stars securing their rightful spots early on.
The Australian Open of course is the first of four Grand Slam Tournaments that bookmark a year of tennis.
The other are the French Open (Aka Roland Garros) in May, Wimbledon in June, and the US Open in August.
Needless to say, a championship in any of these four events brings any player to the APT A-list, as well as thicker wallets with the prize money of a major tournament. Witness: over $2 million for the winner and $1 million for the runner-up.
Spanish star Rafael Nadal entered as the top seed in the men’s singles division, while Danish babe Caroline Wozniacki is number one in the women’s singles division.
Though two obvious favorites, past tournaments somehow indicate otherwise, with Nadal winning only once in 2009 and Wozniacki having difficulty getting past the fourth round every year.
So in the spirit of competition, here are four tennis pros who could take home this year’s title just as easy as Nadal and Wozniacki can, starting off with the pro legend himself:
Still the man to beat: Roger Federer
Roger is the reigning Australian Open Men’s Division champion, having defeated Scottish player Andy Murray in three straight sets in the finals match last year.
Federer has since tied Andre Agassi in the record for most Australian Open titles in an Open Era with four each. As of this writing, the Swiss legend won a five-set victory against Frenchman Gilles Simon in the second round of this year’s tournament.
Representing the family: Venus Williams
With reigning Australian Open Women’s Division champion Serena Williams nursing a foot injury, Venus Williams is the sister to watch for despite having health issues of her own this year. Last year’s Australian Open however would be tough to beat: Venus took home her fourth title in the Women’s Doubles category along with her sister, also reaching the quarterfinals in the women’s singles category.
Beat the bros: Bob and Mike Bryan
The Bryan brothers have clearly conquered the Australian Open Men’s Doubles Category, having won the title in 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010. Bob also happens to be the reigning number one seed in the doubles category, a feat he shares with twin brother Mike. Grand slam siblings as they are, the duo has once again made an impact with a first round win over Scott Lipsky and Rajeev Ram this week.
Dude on a roll: Andy Roddick
Roddick has yet to win an Australian Open title, losing each time to the likes of Rainer Schuttler, Marat Safin, and Marin Cilic mid-way through the tournament. A-Rod however seems to be on a legitimate roll this year, going past Jan Hajek and Igor Kunitsyn in the first two rounds and in convincing fashion. We’re looking at this American prodigy to beat Robin Haase in the third round and qualify all the way up top.
For your viewing and hearing pleasure: Maria Sharapova
The 2008 Australian Open Women’s Division champion, Maria Sharapova has since sunk lower into the ranks. She now sits at the 14th seed in the women’s singles division this year. But that’s not to say we should count her out this early – the Russian beauty just defeated Virginie Razzano in the second round after winning two consecutive sets. Her short skirts and scandalous screams are sights and sounds to behold.