TENNIS: The Australian Open kicks off with an alluring first round, setting up many of the favourites with a tough opening challenge in which we will surely see some upsets and surprises.
Kyle Edmund v Jannik Sinner
The former British number one and world number 14, Kyle Edmund, comes up against one of the most exciting, emerging young talents, currently ranked world number 16 and starting the season well after an incredible 2022. Jannik Sinner reached the fifth round of the Australian Open, the fourth round of the French Open and the quarter-final of Wimbledon and the US Open last year, so it can only be expected that he will start this January the way he left off.
Though yet to convert one of his impressive runs to a Grand Slam final, Sinner has established himself as one of the best players in the world, and at such a young age, he is sure to get even better and give himself opportunities to win numerous major trophies.
Edmund, on the other hand, had a meteoric rise to prominence in the 2018 Australian Open, which saw him reach the semi-final and excite fellow Brits into believing a rare high-quality English player had been produced. It seemed to be the case until Edmund was hit by a major injury that saw him side-lined for most of the time since.
Only recently has he got back to full fitness and, given a protected place in the top 50 for his return, will be looking to bounce back instantly.
His lack of playing time sees him as the heavy underdog but looking at the ability the Brit showed before his injury, we feel his odds of just 8.5 to take the win here are heavily distorted.
Having played at the US Open on return from his injury, Edmund has had the chance to readjust to the atmosphere of a major tournament and will likely look to push on and rekindle his career in Australia, the place that was so good to him in 2018.
However, his opponent Jannik Sinner comfortably defeated him just two weeks ago in Adelaide, and with odds of 1.01 to triumph, it is hard to see Edmund reaching Sinner’s level so quickly upon his return.
Regardless, it promises to be an entertaining match, and it will certainly be interesting to see how Edmund fares against a real challenge. We might even have the tournament’s first upset on the cards.
Emma Raducanu v Tamara Korpatsch
Britain’s number one Emma Raducanu has been plagued by injuries, a merry-go-round of coaches, and all-around difficulties that have hampered her progress into the world-class player she promised to be after her historic win at the US Open in 2021.
That being said, Raducanu’s potential is crystal clear, and you feel a bit of luck on the injury side and a little more stability in her team could allow the young Brit to unleash the superb capability that she has been storing inside.
Again, withdrawing due to injury in her last match at the Auckland Open this month, Raducanu will hope that she can hold out long enough to take advantage of a fortunate draw that sees her as the 1.09 favourite.
Though ranked one place above Raducanu in the WTA rankings, Tamara Korpatsch is at her career high and has yet to make an impact as great as Raducanu in the tennis world. Losing in the qualifier first round at the Adelaide and Hobart Open, Korpatsch does not have winning momentum with her and having played only one match at any Grand Slam since September 2020, it is hard to see the German overcoming Raducanu who now has a lot more experience of the biggest stage.
There, of course, is always another side to the coin, and at 4.8, Korpatsch could offer a great return with a win. If Raducanu has yet to overcome her injury problems, it doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to picture a withdrawal from the fragile Brit before the match is over.