AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2015: Capsules on top women's players

BY foxsports • January 16, 2015

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Women to watch at the Australian Open, which begins Monday at Melbourne Park:


Seeded: 1

Age: 33

Country: United States

2014 Match Record: 52-8

2014 Singles Titles: 7

Career Singles Titles: 64

Major Titles: 18 - Australian Open ('03, `05, `07, `09, `10), French Open ('02, `13) , Wimbledon ('02, `03, `09, `10, `12), U.S. Open ('99, `02, `08, `12, `13, `14)

Last 5 Australian Opens: `14-4th, `13-QF, `12-4th, `11-DNP, `10-W

Topspin: The tournament's opening day will mark Williams' 100th consecutive week as No. 1 in the WTA rankings (since Feb. 18, 2013). ... Her 18 Grand Slam singles titles have her even with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova and behind Steffi Graf's 22 in the Open Era, with those three women the only players to spend more career weeks at No. 1. ... Williams won $9.317 million last year, second only to her own WTA-record $12.385 million from 2013. ... Started off the 2015 season playing the Hopman Cup with partner John Isner, where she lost two of her four singles matches, and her composure during a mixed doubles final which the Americans lost to Poland. ... With her last Australian Open win coming in 2010, this marks her longest period without a trophy at Melbourne Park since she won her first in 2003.



Seeded: 2

Age: 27

Country: Russia

2014 Match Record: 48-13

2014 Singles Titles: 4

Career Singles Titles: 33

Major Titles: 5 - French Open ('12, `14), Wimbledon ('04), U.S. Open ('06), Australian Open ('08)

Last 5 Australian Opens: `14-4th, `13-SF, `12-F, 11-4th, `10-1st

Topspin: Back healthy after a series of shoulder injuries, Sharapova had one of her three best seasons on tour in 2014, finishing with a year-end No. 2 ranking after achieving the same in 2006 and 2012. ... She reached the fourth round at three Grand Slams - Australian Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open - along with winning her fifth career major at Roland Garros. ... Looked strong in winning the Brisbane International title Jan. 10 in a stirring comeback win over Ana Ivanovic. ... Based on Williams' shaky start to the 2015 season, would have to be considered a strong favorite for a second title at Melbourne Park.



Seeded: 3

Age: 23

Country: Romania

2014 Match Record: 49-18

2014 Singles Titles: 2

Career Singles Titles: 8

Major titles: none. Best: - French Open finalist ('14).

Last 5 Australian Opens: `14-QF, `13-1st, `12-1st, 11-3rd, `10-DNP

Topspin: Made her first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros; also finished runner-up to Sharapova at Madrid. ... Started 2014 at No. 11 in the rankings but steadily improved to No. 2 in August before being supplanted by Sharapova later in the year. ... Got 2015 off to a good start by winning the Shenzen Open, beating Timea Bacsinszky in straight sets in the final. She then pulled out of the Sydney International last week with gastroenteritis.



Seeded: 4

Age: 24

Country: Czech Republic

2014 Match Record: 49-16

2014 Singles Titles: 3

Career Singles Titles: 14

Major Titles: 2 - Wimbledon ('11, 14)

Last 5 Australian Opens: `14-1st; `13-2nd, `12-SF, `11-QF, `10-2nd

Topspin: Surprise first-round loser at Melbourne Park last year to Luksika Kumkhum of Thailand in three sets. ... Her three titles last year included her second at Wimbledon, where she beat Canadian Eugenie Bouchard in a lopsided final to remain the only player born in the 1990s, male or female, to win a Grand Slam title. ... Lists her favorite city as Melbourne. ... Coached by David Kotyza, she trains at the same club as fellow Czechs Tomas Berdych and Lucie Safarova. ... Lost in the semifinals at the Shenzen Open last week.



Seeded: 5

Age: 27

Country: Serbia

2014 Match Record: 58-21

2014 Singles Titles: 4

Career Singles Titles: 15

Major Titles: 1 - French Open ('08)

Last 5 Australian Opens: `14-QF, `13-4th, `12-4th, `11-1st, `10-2nd

Topspin: Had a tour-high 58 wins last season, helping her move back into the top five. ... Won four titles in six finals and reached the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park last year, losing to Eugenie Bouchard. ... Lost to Sharapova in the Brisbane International final last week in a replay of their 2008 Australian Open final. ... Ivanovic has an abdominal injury that forced her to withdraw from her Brisbane doubles quarterfinal, but says she expects to be fit for Melbourne Park.



Seeded: 6

Age: 25

Country: Poland

2014 Match Record: 54-22

2014 Singles Titles: 1

Career Singles Titles: 14

Major Titles: none. Best: - Wimbledon finalist ('12).

Last 5 Australian Opens: `14-SF, `13-QF, `12-QF, `11-QF, `10-3rd

Topspin: She's made steady improvement in each of her last five trips to Melbourne Park, reaching the semifinals last year for the first time after beating two-time champion Victoria Azarenka in the quarters. ... Recently added 18-time singles major winner Martina Navratilova to her coaching team in an attempt to improve her performances at the highest level. ''The goal of course is a Grand Slam,'' Radwanska said. ''Martina is a person (of) huge experience with so many titles ... I think she can help me out a lot.'' ... Opened the season by winning the Hopman Cup mixed title with countryman Jerzy Janowicz, beating Americans Serena Williams and John Isner.



Seeded: 7

Age: 20

Country: Canada

2014 Match Record: 47-24

2014 Singles Titles: 1

Career Singles Titles: 1

Major Titles: none. Best: - Wimbledon finalist ('14).

Last 5 Australian Opens: `14-SF (first appearance)

Topspin: Matching her breakthrough 2014 season might be the tough part for Bouchard, who advanced to the semifinals at three majors and lost in the Wimbledon final, moving into the top five for the first time. ... Bouchard lost to the eventual champion and now-retired Li Na in the semis at Melbourne last year, to Sharapova in the French semifinals and to Kvitova at Wimbledon. ... At the All England Club, she became the first Canadian, male or female, to reach a Grand Slam final. ... Got her 2015 season off to a slow start with a loss to 16th-ranked Lucie Safarova at the Hopman Cup, but rebounded to beat Serena Williams in her next match.



Seeded: 8

Age: 24

Country: Denmark

2014 Match Record: 51-21

2014 Singles Titles: 1

Career Singles Titles: 22

Major Titles: none. Best: - U.S. Open finalist (`09, `14)

Last 5 Australian Opens: `14-3rd, `13-4th, 12-QF, `11-SF, `10-4th

Topspin: The former No. 1 is still searching for that elusive Grand Slam singles title, and she came close again last year, losing the U.S. Open final for a second time. ... A tale of two seasons last year, perhaps affected by her breakup with golfer Rory McIlroy, and not the way many would have thought. She struggled in the first half, going 15-9 between January and June with her best results being two semifinals (she lost her first-round match at the French Open just a week after McIlroy ended their engagement as the wedding invitations were being sent out). ... But she had a resurgent second half, going 34-10 from the start of grass-court season to end of year, highlighted by her U.S. Open final appearance. ... Off the courts, the new running enthusiast completed the New York City Marathon, her first, in a better time than she had hoped. ... Hurt her left wrist in her first-round match at the Sydney International this week, forcing her to withdraw, but hopes the injury won't keep her from playing in Melbourne.




Ranked: 41

Age: 25

Country: Belarus

2014 Match Record: 15-9

2014 Singles Titles: 0

Career Singles Titles: 17

Major Titles: 2 - Australian Open ('12, `13)

Last 5 Australian Opens: `14-QF, `13-W, `12-W, `11-4th, `10-QF

Topspin: Last year was one to forget for the two-time champion at Melbourne Park, and although her ranking has slipped into the 40s, she's still a threat to repeat her 2012 and 2013 successes here. ... Injuries to her feet and right knee restricted her to just 24 matches last year. ... She also was fodder for the gossip pages because of her breakup with rap artist Redfoo, who had accompanied her to Melbourne in the past. ... Her 2015 got off to a poor start when she lost her first-round match at the Brisbane International - her first competition since September - to Karolina Pliskova in three sets, wasting two match points in the second. The defeat cost her any chance of a seeding for the season's first major.


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