Australian Open 2019: The best Opta Facts as Wozniacki aims to join elite cast

By Sports Desk January 12, 2019

Caroline Wozniacki will return to the scene of her greatest hour when she defends the Australian Open at Melbourne Park over the next fortnight.

The world number three defeated Simona Halep in a classic final 12 months ago and is aiming to join an elite cast of female players to retain the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup.

Halep herself became a first-time major winner in 2018 and knows she will have a target on her back as world number one, while Serena Williams will again go for grand slam number 24.

With the women's draw once more set to be wide open, we have taken a look at the best Opta Facts for the biggest players ahead of the tournament.


WOZNIACKI LOOKING TO REIGNITE GRAND SLAM FIRE

- Wozniacki has failed to reach the quarter-finals in any grand slam since she won the Australian Open in 2018.

- The Dane triumphed in Melbourne but had failed to reach the last eight in her previous five appearances in the tournament.

- Wozniacki is aiming to become the first woman to win successive Australian Open titles since Victoria Azarenka (2012 and 2013). 

- Only Azarenka, Williams (2009, 2010) and Jennifer Capriati (2001, 2002) have won the Australian Open in consecutive years since 2000.


HALEP AIMING TO JOIN SELECT TOP-RANKED GROUP

- Since 2005 only Williams (2010, 2015) and Azarenka (2013) have won the Australian Open as the top-ranked player in the world.

- Halep reached the final last year but failed to pass through the first round in her two previous appearances in the tournament.

- The Romanian has made it to the quarter-finals in four of her last seven grand slam appearances; she has also made it to three major finals in that span.

- There were three new women's grand slam winners in 2018 (Wozniacki, Halep and Naomi Osaka), the most there had been in seven years.


SERENA STILL COURTING MARGARET'S RECORD

- Williams' next grand slam victory will be her 24th, equalling Margaret Court for the most of all time in women's tennis.

- The American has not won any of the last seven grand slams, with her last triumph coming at the Australian Open in 2017 – this is her longest span without a major title since 2012.

- Williams has participated in eight Australian Open finals, more than any other player in the Open Era, including three of the last four.


OSAKA OUT TO GO BACK-TO-BACK, KERBER A CONTENDER

- Osaka is aiming to become the first woman to win successive grand slams since Williams (US Open in 2014 followed by the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon in 2015).

- US Open champion Osaka has never reached the quarter-finals in Melbourne, falling in the fourth round to Halep in 2018.

- Angelique Kerber has made the last eight in three of her last four grand slam appearances, including the semi-finals at the 2018 Australian Open.

- The German has reached the semi-finals in two of her last three appearances at Melbourne Park and won the title in 2016 but had failed to reach the quarter-finals in any of her previous runs in the tournament.

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    Kerber, victorious at Melbourne Park three years ago, was hammered by unseeded American Danielle Collins while 2008 champion Sharapova took the first set against home hope Ashleigh Barty before succumbing 4-6 6-1 6-4.

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    Since a run to the semi-finals in 2013, Stephens has failed to reach the second week in Melbourne but she looked on course to earn a quarter-final berth when she took the opening set against Pavlyuchenkova.

    And Stephens carried that momentum into the second, breaking immediately and going 2-0 ahead before her opponent roared back and reeled off six of the next seven games to force a decider.

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    KERBER CRUSHED BY COLLINS

    Collins had never won a grand slam match before this week, but the 25-year-old was utterly dominant in a 6-0 6-2 annihilation of Kerber, who conceded that she was well below her best.

    "I think there is not too much to say. I mean, it was completely not my day," Kerber said. "I was not playing the tennis that I can play. She played really well. I think she played one of her best matches, to be honest. She hit every ball in the court. She moves good.

    "For me...not my day, not my good tennis, but credit to her, she played a good match. I was just trying, I couldn't find my rhythm. The whole match I was trying everything. I was trying to find it. I was trying to fight even in the second set and tried my best."

     

    KVITOVA TAKES ANISIMOVA TO SCHOOL

    Still seven months shy of her 18th birthday, Anisimova produced a sensational run to the fourth round but the teenager came up against too strong an opponent in two-time major champion Kvitova, who eased through 6-2 6-1.

    Anisimova took to social media after the match, admitting she was beaten by the better woman, saying: "I got a tennis lesson today, but at least it was from one of the best in the world hey...really though I had such an enjoyable week here, thank you so much for being such an amazing crowd. I am so looking forward to next year Melbs".

    And Belinda Bencic, defeated 6-1 6-4 by Kvitova in the previous round, felt a degree of sympathy with the young American, replying on Instagram: "Welcome to the club #petrasvictims".

     

    BARTY TO MEET FAMILIAR FOE KVITOVA

    Next up for Kvitova is home favourite Barty, who delighted the partisan crowd by coming from behind to oust Sharapova and the Australian is hoping for revenge after losing out to the world number six in the final of the Sydney International earlier this month.

    "[I need to] win a couple more important points, I suppose, compared to Sydney," Barty said. "It's exciting that I get to have another chance at Petra straight away.

    "Not often does that happen where you get to kind of have a replay against the same opponent. Really exciting, but, yeah, really pumped to have another chance here."

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