Published: Fri, January 11, 2019
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Simona Halep to face Kaia Kanepi in Australian Open

Simona Halep to face Kaia Kanepi in Australian Open

Bookmakers in Australia have installed Williams as a short-priced favorite for the title with her US Open conqueror Osaka - the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam - next in the betting.

Men's top seed Djokovic, who was defending his title when he lost to Istomin, will first meet a qualifier in his bid for a record seventh Melbourne title and third Grand Slam crown in succession following wins at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

Regarding the controversial final against Osaka at Flushing Meadows - when she raged against umpire Carlos Ramos who imposed three code violations, the final one resulting in the loss of a game - Williams said she had put it put behind her and meant to "move on to bigger and better things".

In her Time interview, the rising star doesn't seem to be dwelling on last year's adversities as she prepares for what will most likely be the biggest challenge of her career. "I see hunger and I see boldness", 18-times major singles champion Evert said in a conference call looking ahead to the Australian Open.

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Serena Williams has been handed a challenging draw in her quest for a record-equaling 24th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, starting with Germany's Tatjana Maria in the first round.

The 28-year-old Dane insists she can manage the debilitating auto-immune condition, which sometimes leaves her so exhausted she cannot raise her arms above her head.

World number one Simona Halep, with a massive burden off her shoulders, will hope to go one better this year having lost the 2018 final to Caroline Wozniacki.

Serena Williams' legacy will not be tarnished by what happened at the US Open final previous year, 18-time Grand Slam champion Chris Evert said ahead of the Australian Open, scheduled to begin on Monday.

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US Open champion Naomi Osaka is at four while Sloane Stephens , who also slumped out of Sydney early, is at five. Britain's Andy Murray will open his Australian Open campaign against Spain's 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut .

The shock diagnosis came after Wozniacki had returned to number one and taken her WTA tour title tally to 30 with victories not only in Melbourne, but also Eastbourne and Beijing. I feel at home here.

"There's no doubt that was a negative but there's no doubt that also past year when you look at the bigger picture, the fact that she came back from having a child she was really nowhere near 100 percent and she still made the finals of Wimbledon and the US Open was incredible".

Australia Open is slated to be held from January 14 to 27 in Melbourne, Australia.

'After the final, we finished with the press around 10pm and they took me to doping control', said Halep at the Sydney International, where she starts her new season. I will have a few more years of tennis and then I want to improve in other ways.

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