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Sport Comment: Even without Williams, Aussie Open women's field still tough

22:55  13 january  2018
22:55  13 january  2018 Source:   ap.org

Williams turns down Sydney wildcard ahead of Australia Open defence

  Williams turns down Sydney wildcard ahead of Australia Open defence Serena Williams has turned down the offer of a wildcard to the Sydney International ahead of an expected Australian Open defence. The 23-time grand slam champion has not played competitive tennis since triumphing in Melbourne 12 months ago when she was pregnant with her first child.Williams, who lost an exhibition match to Jelena Ostapenko in Abu Dhabi last weekend, has not yet committed to playing, but tournament director Craig Tiley spoke of his confidence that the 36-year-old will compete.

Home » Australia News » Even without Serena, Aussie … “There’ s no straight sailing to the quarters or semis. It doesn’t exist.” Stephens agrees the Australian Open field is still extremely tough , even without Williams , the 23-time major winner.

Even without Serena, Aussie Open women ' s field still tough . MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - Without defending champion Serena Williams in the draw at the Australian Open , there's certainly an opportunity for another player to go on a surprising run and emerge as a

Britain's Johanna Konta gestures during a press conference at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)© (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara Britain's Johanna Konta gestures during a press conference at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

With no Serena Williams in the draw at the Australian Open, there's certainly an opportunity for another women's player to go on a surprising run and emerge as a first-time Grand Slam champion, as Sloane Stephens and Jelena Ostapenko did last year.

Just don't describe the first Grand Slam of the year as ''more open'' than usual.

''Whenever I get asked that question, it always comes across in really kind of an almost negative way instead of acknowledging how many great players we have,'' Johanna Konta, who reached the semifinals of Wimbledon last year, said in her pre-tournament news conference Saturday.

Venus Williams hungry for Australian Open

  Venus Williams hungry for Australian Open Ageless former world No.1 Venus Williams she can keep the Australian Open in the family in the absence of her defending champion sister Serena.Declaring age just a number, Venus Williams has arrived down under intent on keeping the Australian Open trophy in the family.

Melbourne, Jan 13 With no Serena Williams in the draw at the Australian Open , there's certainly an opportunity for another women ' s player to go on a surprising run and emerge as a first-time Grand Slam champion, as Sloane Stephens and Jelena Ostapenko did last year.

Stephens agrees the Australian Open field is still extremely tough , even without Williams , the 23-time major winner. Williams withdrew from the tournament to recover from health issues after a complicated childbirth in September.

''The depth in women's tennis I really do believe in the last few years has gotten so strong,'' she added. ''There's no straight sailing to the quarters or semis. It doesn't exist.''

United States' Sloane Stephens smiles during a press conference at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)© (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara United States' Sloane Stephens smiles during a press conference at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara) Stephens agrees the Australian Open field is still extremely tough, even with Serena Williams, the defending champion and 23-time major winner, skipping the tournament as she continues her recovery from a complicated childbirth in September.

''There's a lot of great players,'' she said. ''It's up for grabs.''

Indeed, any number of women could be holding the trophy at Melbourne Park in two weeks. The No. 1-ranking changed seven times in 2017, with five different women assuming top spot - three for the first time.

Australian Open 2018: Daunting match-up for Alex de Minaur

  Australian Open 2018: Daunting match-up for Alex de Minaur Gun Australian youngster Alex de Minaur has drawn a daunting opponent in the Australian Open first round – former top-10 player Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic. De Minaur, in a rich vein of form in the lead-up to the first major of 2018, picked up a main draw spot after winning the Australian Open wildcard play-off last month.De Minaur has already marched into the Sydney International quarter-finals and the 18-year-old was due to play Feliciano Lopez in the final eight on Thursday night.Australia's best hope in the men's draw, Nick Kyrgios, will meet Brazilian Rogerio Dutra Silva.

Stephens agrees the Australian Open field is still extraordinarily tough , even with Serena Williams , the defending champion and 23-time main winner, skipping the match as she continues her restoration from a sophisticated childbirth in September.

Stephens agrees the Australian Open field is still extremely tough , even with Serena Williams , the defending champion and 23-time major winner, skipping the tournament as she continues her recovery from a complicated childbirth in September.

Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki answers questions during a press conference at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)© (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki answers questions during a press conference at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara) One of those women, Simona Halep, is looking to finally break through and win her first major after twice finishing runner-up. She won the season-opening Shenzhen Open in China, but has had mixed previous results at Melbourne Park, losing in the first round the last two years.

''I don't feel pressure. I feel OK. I feel fit. I feel ready to start,'' she said. ''I have one more goal: to win a Grand Slam.''

Stephens came out of nowhere to win the U.S. Open last year after a lengthy time out with an injury to her left foot. She's struggled to adjust to the sudden stardom that's come with being a Grand Slam champion - she's lost seven straight matches since September - but believes she can find her game again in Melbourne.

Former No 1 Kerber wins 9th in a row to clinch Sydney title

  Former No 1 Kerber wins 9th in a row to clinch Sydney title Angelique Kerber won her first title since the 2016 U.S. Open and extended her winning streak to nine matches with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Ashleigh Barty in the Sydney International final on Saturday. The 2016 Australian Open champion and former No. 1-ranked Kerber won four singles matches at the Hopman Cup in Perth, Western Australia last week, helping Germany reach the final against Switzerland, and followed up with five wins in Sydney.

Even without Serena, Aussie Open women ' s field still tough . MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - Without defending champion Serena Williams in the draw at the Australian Open , there's certainly an opportunity for another player to go on a surprising run and emerge as a

Stephens agrees the Australian Open field is still extremely tough , even without Williams , the 23-time major winner. Williams withdrew from the tournament to recover from health issues after a complicated childbirth in September.

Spain's Garbine Muguruza answers a question during a press conference at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)© (AP Photo/Vincent Thian Spain's Garbine Muguruza answers a question during a press conference at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

''I think it's always a tough transition when you go from not playing tennis for 11 months to winning a Grand Slam,'' she said. ''I like to just stay in my own little bubble and do my own thing. ... It's kind of been what I'm trying to do.''

There are plenty of other contenders, too. Ostapenko has rocketed up the rankings after her stunning win at last year's French Open. Venus Williams is a threat again at 37 years old, and 2016 Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber is playing well after a subpar year, capturing the Sydney International title on Saturday.

Garbine Muguruza is the reigning Wimbledon champion, though her health has been in question at the start of the new year. Caroline Wozniacki had a career-reviving season in 2017 and could return to the No. 1 ranking for the first time in six years with a strong showing in Melbourne.

And then there's Elina Svitolina, who just captured her 10th tour-level title last week at the Brisbane International and has a shot at No. 1 herself at the Australian Open.

Romania's Simona Halep smiles during a press conference at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)© (AP Photo/Vincent Thian Romania's Simona Halep smiles during a press conference at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

''I had a great week in Brisbane. Of course, I'm confident,'' she said.

But she added this alone isn't enough in today's constantly shifting, ultra-competitive women's game.

''Everyone wants to win a Grand Slam. ... So, I try to find my way, what can help me to be there, to be ready for the fight. Just one match at a time.''

Ruthless Svitolina eases into Aussie Open quarterfinals .
Fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina started her fourth-round match just before midnight Sunday at the Australian Open and was finished within an hour, beating Czech qualifier Denisa Allertova 6-3, 6-0 to reach the quarterfinals here for the first time. Svitolina was ruthless in the second set, conceding only eight points in the first five games. Even when Allertova at game point at 40-0 in the last, Svitolina went on a five-point roll an closed it out with a backhand winner down the line.The result extended her winning to nine matches, including a run to the title at the Brisbane International two weeks ago.

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