The usual suspects, Sam Stosur and Bernard Tomic, are Australia’s only real hope of obtaining tennis glory at home this January, but both are long shots to take home the Australian Open. Expecting anything from the almost-done Lleyton Hewitt is pure madness and our hometown favourites won’t even be able to take advantage of the heat wave currently hitting the nation.
The Sydney International today experienced temperatures in excess of 40C. At the 2009 Australian Open play had to be suspended due to the weather. There’ll be none of that this year- Melbourne is expecting a max around the mid-20s over the weekend.
Onto the Aussie hopefuls:
Not only does Australia’s top ranked player Sam Stosur have a miserable record at home, but she has had far from an ideal lead-up to Melbourne.
Except news in the coming days to be revealed as to why Stosur wasn’t part of Australia’s Hopman Cup team, but I've heard something fishy definitely occurred there. Playing in Perth against some great talent, and guaranteed at least three matches, should have been Stosur’s warm up. Instead she went to the Sydney International where she suffered an embarrassing first-round loss to China's world No. 42 Jie Zheng.
Coming off a disappointing 2012, Stosur is still the sixth seed at the Open, but don’t expect a second Grand Slam title.
Bernard Tomic’s Hopman Cup was filled with promise and it looks like the 20-year-old has successfully refined his game with a new serving technique and a better forehand. He knocked over world No.1 Novak Djokovic, Tommy Haas (25) and Andreas Seppi (23) last week and we were all very impressed, but a long run in Melbourne will be necessary to sway a sceptical Australian public.
Casey Dellacqua was also ousted in the first-round in Sydney, but to the world No. 112 and oldest singles player on the WTA Tour-Japanese qualifier Kimiko Date-Krumm. The knee must still be bothering her as she’s clearly not 100% healthy.
Like Tomic, 16-year-old Ashleigh Barty impressed in Perth, but expecting much out of such a young player is ridiculous.
Lleyton Hewitt has produced a couple of runs in 2012, his first year back to full health, and is going into what should be his 17th and last Aussie Open. One last send-off would be nice, but I can't see him keeping pace with too many of the top 25 featuring at the tournament.
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Follow Robert White on Twitter @RobertWhitebrrr.