The Australian Open, one of the foremost tennis tournaments in the world, is played in Brisbane, Australia, and promises much more thrilling and entertaining tennis by the world’s most successful and talented athletes. The three initial events that make up warmup competitions during the first week of the tournament include the Brisbane International, the Hopman Cup and the ASB Classic.
The Brisbane Cup, taking place from January 4 to January 11, features defending male and female champions Lleyton Hewitt and Serena Williams, respectively, returning to compete and provide the very first exciting events of the Australian Open. Other major tennis players appearing include stars Roger Federer, Kei Nishikori and Bernard Tomic, as well as newcomers such as Thanasi Kokkinakis and Marinko Matosevic. Plenty of established and notable female tennis players will also be bringing their talents to the matches, including Victoria Azarenka, eager to rebound from injuries sustained last year. Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic, Angelique Kerber and Dominika Cibulkova are entering the competition as well, certain to make the tournament a nail-biting and unpredictable event.
From January 4 to January 10, the Hopman Cup will be taking place, and France is the defending champion nation. However, without player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga present due to injuries, the French team will have an uphill battle. Andy Murray will partner with Heather Watson for Great Britain, while Flavia Pennetta and Fabio Fognini will represent Italy. Australia has not won this tournament since 1999, and the country is counting on Newcombe Medallist, Nick Kyrgios and local favorite Casey Dellacqua to bring the trophy home after 16 years. Among the men, John Isner, Fabio Fognini and Vasek Pospisil will be among those to watch out for.
The ASB Classic, meanwhile, which will take place in Auckland, New Zealand from January 5 to January 10, returns to the single player format instead of the doubles format of the Hopman Cup and focuses on female tennis players. The big names include Caroline Wozniacki, Venus Williams, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Sara Errani. Despite being 35 years old, Williams is a formidable athlete with a proven track record of consistent success in multiple tournaments across the world. She will be one of the top players to watch out for, and has a very strong chance of taking home the top award. Wozniacki of Denmark is also a longstanding and extremely versatile athlete, likely to challenge Williams and provide plenty of excitement for spectators.
One of the biggest news stories in the sport of tennis last year was the retirement of Chinese tennis champion Li Na, who has now vacated her seat as winner of the previous Shenzhen Open held from January 4 to January 10. Local hopes rest on world number 21 Peng Shuai, last year’s runner-up who will continue to seek her first career singles title. Last year, she did reach the semi-finals at the US Open. Injury forced her retirement out of the match against Caroline Wozniacki, however.
Another particularly interesting match to watch is the Qatar Open in Doha from January 5 to January 11, which will allow viewers to enjoy the sights of top players Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Nadal will thus face some tough competition in the defense of his Qatar title. This competition of male athletes is likely to be especially tense and close, as many of the competing players have lengthy histories of success and skill. The other two main challengers, Tomas Berdych and David Ferrer, may be able to advance and ruin any fan prospects of an expected final between Djokovic and Nadal, the world number one and three players, respectively.
Reigning Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka will kick off his 2015 season by attempting to defend his Chennai Open title successfully, which he won last year prior to breaking through in Melbourne for his first Grand Slam title at the expense of then-world-number-one Rafael Nadal. Rankings wise, there aren’t expected to be any serious challengers to his crown, although, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez might prove to be a problem should the two go head-to-head at this event. Garcia-Lopez defeated Wawrinka in last year’s French Open, taking the Swiss player by surprise and knocking him out of the first round