Iga Swiatek is the clear favourite at the Australian Open. Behind her lurk many players who are hoping for something. A check of the women’s field at the “Happy Slam”.

In the past two decades, Serena Williams has dominated women’s tennis almost at will. In the last years of her career, however, this dominance waned – and last year the 23-time Grand Slam winner now ended her career. And since Ash Barty had also quit unexpectedly in 2022, a gap suddenly opened up in the women’s game. Who would be the new number 1?

In the meantime, there is a clear answer to this question: Iga Swiatek. The Pole leads the world rankings by a wide margin and has more than twice as many points as the runner-up Ons Jabeur (Tunisia). The 21-year-old had a fantastic last year, winning her second and third Grand Slam titles at the French and US Open. In addition, she won 2022 in Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart, Rome and San Diego.

In total, Swiatek has already won eleven titles on the WTA Tour and has collected just over 15 million euros in prize money – and all that at the age of just 21. The favourite for the title in Australia is therefore clear, the Polish player’s last year was too strong. However, there is a small question mark behind her current form, as she has been plagued by shoulder problems lately, which is why she could not take part in the tournament in Adelaide.

Pegula arrives in good form

In addition, she recently suffered a clear 2:6, 2:6 defeat against Jessica Pegula and shed bitter tears afterwards. Does this perhaps give the competition a chance? One can only speculate about that.

But the fact is that Pegula is one of the players you have to have on your radar for the tournament in Melbourne. The daughter of US billionaire Terrence Pegula, who owns the Buffalo Bills (NFL) and the Buffalo Sabres (NHL) among others, recently won the newly created United Cup with the USA and is therefore travelling to the first Grand Slam tournament of the year with a tailwind.

The bookmakers have Pegula in third position together with Caroline Garcia from France. Aryna Sabalenka is just ahead, but already clearly behind Swiatek. The Belarusian is ranked number five in the world and her powerful game comes into its own on the hard court in Australia. The extended field of favourites also includes the 18-year-old Coco Gauff (WTA No. 7) and of course Jabeur (WTA No. 2).

Behind them, of course, there are many players with surprise potential. As the women’s tournaments of the last few years have shown, such a surprise is always possible, for example, Elena Rybakina, who won Wimbledon last year. In any case, there will be a new title holder, because Barty, who won in 2022, is no longer there.
What about the German players?

That leaves the question of the German players. With Angelique Kerber, who is expecting her first child, the best player is not there. However, Laura Siegemund, Jule Niemeier, Tamara Korpatsch, Tatjana Maria and Eva Lys, who made it into the main draw via the qualifying rounds, will try to achieve a success or two.

Niemeier ranked 68th and thus the best German player has the toughest draw of all with Swiatek. Niemeier showed that she can keep up with Swiatek at the US Open when she lost to the Pole in three sets in the last 16.