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The Who’s Who of the Australian Open 2015 

Tennis Court - Melbourne, AUS Photo: With the Australian Open right around the corner let’s take a look at who’s in, who’s out, and who and what to watch out for, at this year’s tournament. Once again the Big Four will be playing. The Big Four (Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray) always seem to dominate at the Australian open, with the exception of last year when Stan Wawrinka beat Novak Djokovic in the final. Roger Federer, with his newly-designed Wilson tennis racquet, just earned his 1000th win at the Brisbane Tournament; winning the title by beating Milos Raonic. It is said that Wawrinka may again be a force to be reckoned with this year, as well as Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic. One athlete who won’t be seen playing this year is Marin Cilic, the winner of last year’s US Open. He was on his way to being a contender in the Australian Open, but his shoulder injury has forced him to withdraw from the tournament altogether. It would have been nice to see another newcomer possibly break up the Big Four. On the women’s side, the always-dominant Serena Williams is out for blood-related issues again. Equally as determined, are Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova, and Simona Halep. Additionally, Agnieszka Raswanska showed some fight at the recent Hopman Cup in Sydney, with her first win over Serena Williams, making Poland proud by winning a Singles Title. Maria Sharapova recently played in the Brisbane Open as a warm-up to the Australian Open, and won the Singles Title over Ana Ivanovic , so she is in a good place. Li Na’s win last year did not go unnoticed, but now that she has retired there is one less top-contender. This year six players earned Wild Cards: Americans Irina Falconi and Dennis Kudla; and International Wild Cards went to Lucas Pouille, Oceane Dodin, Zhang Ze and Chang Kai- Chen. With the draw dropping tomorrow, January 16th, we are excited to see the different match-ups and potential new champions. Another possible threat this year is the weather. Last year it reached 110 degrees. The hot weather shook up many players, and even forced some to end their matches early. The heat can cause many unpleasant, and sometimes dangerous, effects on an athlete’s physiology such as dehydration, cramps and even heat stroke, so it is important that the players stay well-hydrated this year. In addition to having the right water coolers and accessories on the court, the Australian Open also has an extreme heat policy (at or above 104 degrees Fahrenheit). This policy allows officials to suspend the matches until temperatures fall to a more reasonable level. Hopefully it will help – rather than hinder – the players, as the call is up to the referee’s discretion. The weather forecast for Melbourne next week doesn’t look too extreme. However, since January is generally one of the hottest months each year in Australia, another heat wave isn’t out of the cards, yet. With all this being said, the Australian Open is definitely a tournament to watch. We are looking forward to some inspiring upsets and great fights for each title. The tennis matches will run from January 19th to February 1st, so make sure not to miss out on the action!

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