Zee Media Bureau/Chaitan Papnai
Melbourne: Just before the start of the Australian Open, many tennis pundits were of the view that in women’s singles, the competition for the title race lacked spark.
Top seeded Serena was the firm favourite. The second and probably the last title contender was the defending champion Victoria Azarenka. But as the tournament progressed, the shocking exit of Williams added fresh names to the list of title contenders.
Within 24 hours of Serena’s exit, four-time Grand Slam winner Sharapova’s Australian Open campaign also came to an end, when the Russian beauty was ousted by Slovakia`s Dominika Cibulkova in the fourth round. After two big upsets in the tournament, now it’s quite difficult to choose a firm favourite in women’s singles.
However, in the men’s singles where the fight is comparatively stiffer, as the `big four` have the potential to beat each other on their day, all four have entered the quarter-finals. In fact, Roger Federer, who had been struggling with his form for quite some time has finally gained the momentum. Meanwhile, Andy Murray, who has made a comeback after a minor back surgery too lived up to the expectations by entering last sixteen without much of a sweat.
From here on, it`s a big gamble to chose any one from the woman category as now there is no firm favourite, whereas, in men`s category, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are still the top two contenders to win the Major.