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2017 Australian Open Preview: Slam Down Under

[lead align=”default”]Angelique Kerber and Novak Djokovic look to defend their singles titles as the 2017 Australian Open, well, opens.[/lead]

The newly engaged Serena Williams lost her title to Kerber, but she’s back and ready for action. Who else will contend with Serena and Kerber for the women’s title? Does Djokovic have more than just a small handful of contenders for the men’s championship?

2017 Australian Open: Men’s Draw

Andy Murray, not Djokovic, is the top seed on the men’s side of the house. His top quarter of the bracket included John Isner of the United States and the legendary Roger Federer, down to 17th. If Federer should continue to advance, it would be a while before he’d meet Murray; as in, the quarterfinals.

Stan Wawrinka (4) and Marin Cilic (7) are a little closer to the middle of the gigantic bracket, while 3-seed Milos Raonic and 2- seed Novak Djokovic are down near the bottom. Djokovic draws Fernando Verdasco in the first round, and Verdasco’s gotten him four times. Recently, these two meet in Qatar, and the Joker won going the distance, needing a tiebreaker to take the second set.

Aside from Murray and Djokovic, it will be interesting to see how far Raonic goes. The young Canadian is trying to bust his way into the pantheon of men’s singles players, but has yet to win a Grand Slam event. Raonic made it to the semis last year and lost to Andy Murray. Chances are, he’ll face one or both of Murray and Djokovic this time, and to be the best, you have to beat the best.

2017 Australian Open: Women’s Draw

Not surprisingly, Angelique Kerber sits in the top seed of the women’s singles tournament. Serena Williams at number two is as far away from her on the bracket as she can be. They can only meet in the finals, and if they both get there, expect a real fight.

Kerber may face Venus Williams first, who sits at number 13 in the seedings, and that would be in the semifinals. The problem is Venus hasn’t gotten that far in Melbourne since 2003, losing to her sister in the finals.

The locals will always be watching their Australian brothers and sisters play. Sam Stosur is one of those who could win a few matches, but historically has not performed that well at the Australian Open, or most majors in general. Another local favorite is Daria Gavrilova, a Russian-born Aussie who made it to the fourth round in Melbourne last year.

2017 Australian Open: Start Time

Australia kicks off the first Grand Slam event of the year with singles action at 11am local time on Monday, January 16. That’s 7pm Sunday night on the East Coast of the United States and midnight UTC.

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