The New Year is not but two days old but the pros are already gearing up for the Australian Open by taking part in the warm-up events with the first one, the Brisbane International, already underway.
Unlike the clay court or hard court seasons, the “Aussie” season is a two week whirlwind of several events, some playing concurrently, and even on different continents with some of the top men, including Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, choosing to get ready at the Doha event in Qatar.
All eyes will be on Justine Henin this week at Brisbane as she makes her return to the tour with an opening match against No. 20 Nadia Petrova. Even if Henin gets some big wins here and at Sydney, featuring nine of the top ten women, I still think her draw at the Open will be the deciding factor if she’s got a shot to win it all.
With the brevity of the AO series it would be hard to look for trends or players on winning streaks to gauge what might happen in Melbourne later this month. Still, I would look out for Lleyton Hewitt, Sam Stosur, Jelena Dokic and rising star Bernard Tomic as they all will want to make strong showings now if they have any hopes of winning their country’s Grand Slam.