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Halep, Wozniacki eye maiden Slam in Serena’s absence

Halep, Wozniacki eye maiden Slam in Serena’s absence

AFP / File / –
Simona Halep, who currently has no clothing sponsor, confirmed she would wear the same “lucky” red dress in Australia that she used while winning at the Shenzhen Open
Simona Halep will be sporting her “lucky” red dress and Caroline Wozniacki says she is playing for the first time. The world’s two top-ranked players will win the prize to succeed Serena Williams at the top of the table.
With the 36-year-old Halep, Wozniacki and fourth-ranked Elina Svitolina. Last year there were two first-time major-winners while Serena was on maternity leave – Jelena Ostapenko at the French Open and Sloane Stephens at the US Open. But their chances in Melbourne look slim: Stephens has not won a match since Flushing Meadows triumph, and Ostapenko has been far from her attacking best in first-round defeats in Shenzhen and Sydney recently. Wimbledon champion and Garneau muguruza is battling Halep’s hopes. And the 26-year-old Romanian, who currently has no clothing sponsor, confirmed she would wear the same “lucky” red dress in Australia that she used while registering a dominant victory at the Shenzhen Open a fortnight ago. She found the outfit on the internet and hoped it would bring the same results in Australia.

AFP / Gal ROMA
Australian Open: women to watch
“Was a (web) site, in China actually, and one of my managers helped me, I was lucky,” she said. But lucky dress or not, she will need to overcome her poor record at Melbourne Park where she opened her eyes when she opened her eyes on Tuesday against Australian wild card Destinee Aiava.
Former number one Wozniacki is riding high in the rankings again after reaching eight finals in 2017, with victories in Tokyo in September and at the season-ending Tour Championship. “I think I’ve improved everything,” said Wozniacki ahead of a first-round clash Monday with Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu. She lost in the Auckland Classic Final last week to Julia Goerges, but said the rain-disrupted had been tough, ideal preparation. “It was a good start to the year,” said Wozniacki. – Dangerous floater – In-form Svitolina last week won the Brisbane International after picking up five WTA Tour titles last year, more than any other woman. The Ukrainian believes hard work in the off-season is paying dividends. “I’ve started to play more consistently,” she said. “I’m stronger physically, I have a different look to my game.”

AFP / File / PETER PARKS
Sloane Stephens has not won a match since her US Open triumph last year
World number six Karolina Pliskova lost to Svitolina in Brisbane semi-final but also a contender for a maiden. Britain’s world number nine Johanna Konta
Australian Open appearances to date, but slumped out of the Sydney International in the first round and faces a tricky opener against competitive American Madison Brengle. The most dangerous floater is 2008 champion Maria Sharapova, who is back in the world’s top 50 for the first time since returning from a 15-month German Maria Tatjana. 37-year-old Venus Williams, who last won a Slam in 2008 but last year reached two finals – in Melbourne and Wimbledon – to get back to world number five, and Angelique Kerber. The German won in Sydney at the weekend and will hope to recreate her after the championship in Melbourne two years ago after a poor Victory for Venus would like to see Ken Rosewall as the oldest player ever to win a major.

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