Sports

Halep faces wild card in Australian Open first round

Halep faces wild card in Australian Open first round

Despite coming out the victor of a competitive exhibition match against Serena Williams, the start of the season has not been as good with a first round exit in Sydney.

Given the way she has been playing this year, expect some scattered seeds here and Kerber to emerge from this quarter.

"It is going to be a big challenge, it's not easy to play an Australian (at) home". However, results in the past year have shown that without Serena, the field is highly uncertain.

Simona Halep goes in search of a first Grand Slam at the Australian Open next week without a sponsor, but happy she'll be able to wear her "lucky" red dress.

The number one ranking was some consolation after years battling at the top of the game, but Halep will be mindful of the many women before her who have ended up as caretakers at the top during Williams's absences from the tour.

Venus Williams, on the other hand, will be hoping to keep the family flag flying in Melbourne just like she wished the same on the green of London. She is ready to grace the court like she did in United States but exactly like that, she will remain the underdog.

With the prospect of Agnieszka Radwanska in the third round who seems to have re-found her groove a little, not to mention Angelique Kerber, Anastasija Sevastova and Maria Sharapova lurking as possible fourth-round opponents, it may not be the chance for the Spaniard to add to her Slam haul.

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Halep faces Australian teenager Destanee Aiava in the first round, while Wozniacki takes on Romania's Mihaela Buzarnescu.

But the Romanian said she was not feeling the pressure of entering the tournament as the top seed. "You couldn't have said that 10 years ago, even five".

Both players have twice experienced the agony of losing Grand Slam finals, but Shriver would not be surprised to see one of the two lift the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup.

Evert has a hunch though - she believes this could be it for Halep. Garbiñe Muguruza has been struggling early on with her fitness, collapsing with cramp in the season opener in Brisbane, and then withdrawing after scrapping her way through injury in Sydney.

"I don't feel pressure, I feel OK, I feel fit, I feel ready".

Wozniacki is projected to face French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in the quarters. "The way they serve and the speed they hit the ball you can be out of the tournament in 45 minutes".


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