2009 Australian Open….Wide Open?


Coming early in the new year, the 2009 Australian Open will feature both Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova the defending champions. Maria was missed at the US Open in August 2008, she has an injury that has sidelined her for a while, but she will be back to defend her title in January in Australia. For most of the red bloodied men who watch this sport, Maria’s absence created a void that was impossible to fill. Her long-legged presence on the court, her vocal enthusiasm that will echo around Rod Laver arena on her every shot, and her off court antics and interviews add a dimension to the game that is exclusively Maria’s.

Sometimes its easy for us all to forget that these gifted players are all millionaires, yet they continue to push themselves hard physically to reach new heights, and to improve on their records. It cannot be all about the money. Maria who has earned about $12 million in prize money, is reported to earn something in the region of $30 million per year. Not bad for a twenty-something sexy single blond. She is now the official lead collaborator for the Nike subsidiary Cole Haan, that will bring a new blend of fashion wear and sportswear to the market. Other players have their own lines of tennis wear, and in the case of the Williams sisters they go far beyond tennis accessories and clothing. You can almost hear the cash registers ringing as these championships roll around, and for a country like Australia where tennis is the National sport the potential sales of tennis apparel is huge.

The Women’s competition has taken on a new dimension with the revitalization of Venus Williams, and adding Maria Sharapova to the roster of players should make this years Australian Open even more interesting than usual. The other ‘ exotic beauty’, and former number one player Anna Ivanovic, could be the dark horse in the tournament especially as she is now number four, and will be on the other side of the draw to Serena or fellow Serb Jelena Jankovic. And will Jankovic finally her first Grand Slam title..

On the Men’s side we now have four players who have the potential to win the tournament. They are of course the four who reached the US Open final, Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray. Any one of the four is capable of beating the other three on any given day. Travelling to Australia is far different to playing at either Wimbledon or Roland Garros, it’s halfway around the world and in January it is Hot. Former champions have not done well down under, and a win by any one of these four is far from guaranteed.

I will make one prediction, an Australian will Not win the men’s championship!

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