Serena Williams warms up for record-equalling grand slam attempt

Five women to watch at the Australian Open

Five women to watch at the Australian Open

The shock diagnosis came after Wozniacki had returned to number one and taken her WTA tour title tally to 30 with victories not only in Melbourne, but also Eastbourne and Beijing.

"But also there's no doubt past year, when you look at bigger picture, she came back from having a child, really nowhere near one hundred per cent fit, and she still managed to make the finals of Wimbledon and the US Open, which was incredible. Just why", Zverev asked jokingly of Federer at the Hopman Cup trophy presentation.

"The fact that she could break the record for overall grand slams, that will overshadow everything at the end of the day".

While others in "Generation Next" like Austria's Dominic Thiem and the 22-year-old Russians Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev could cause upsets, it is debateable whether they can win seven matches over 14 days. "She's the one that we need to watch I think for this year".

Wawrinka, the 2014 champion, is also coming back from knee surgery and a back injury in the second half of 2018, but typically flies under the radar through grand slams.

Despite being ranked outside the top 10, few would be courageous enough to count Williams out of the equation as she aims to equal Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.

The tournament's top-seed and World's No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia, who is the Australian Open six-time champion and aims this month for record-breaking 7th title, is facing a qualifier in the opening hurdle in Melbourne.

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Bookmakers in Australia have installed Williams as a short-priced favorite for the title with her US Open conqueror Osaka - the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam - next in the betting.

Williams trails only Margaret Court in that category, and she came painfully close to tying her record a year ago in at Wimbledon and the US Open, losing in the final of both events to Angelique Kerber and Naomi Osaka, respectively.

The Romanian broke her major duck at the French Open in June last year and finished the season at number one for the second consecutive year.

Caroline Wozniacki is also looking to defend her title after winning her first career major at this event previous year.

A second Australian Open title will be a flawless birthday gift for world number two Angelique Kerber, who turns 31 in the first week of the tournament.

"To finally get that (title) here was so special, it's the happy slam".

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