THIS may seem like a big call, and I suppose I am going out on a bit of a limb here, but I reckon Serena Williams is going to win the women’s Australian Open.
Actually, put your house on it.
At 31 years, despite several injury breaks, bizarre hairstyles and mentions in Kanye West songs, if Serena turns up to a grand slam event she’ll probably win it.
Serena has been crushing her opponents to pulp for the better part of the last decade, battering them into submission like a piece of flake at your local fish and chip shop.
She has as many titles as she once had beads in her hair; as many grand slam titles as wacky press conference outfits (lots).
A Serena win is almost as likely as a first-round exit for most of the Australian contingent, except for maybe one little-known wildcard who might scrape a win out in court 19 and then get convincingly beaten when bumped onto centre court in primetime to play a seeded player.
Following that disaster, Tennis Australia will then try to turn everyone’s attention onto the doubles tournament, and if there’s no Aussie success there, the boys’ and girls’ titles.
It’s as probable as a call to bring a stop to the cavalcade of shrieking banshees who dominate women’s tennis, led by Victoria Azarenka, who my five-year-old niece thinks sounds like Dorothy the Dinosaur.
Others literally sound like an excessively overjoyed hyena about to mate while chowing down on a juicy gazelle poached from a much-despised rival cheetah. And it has a megaphone hooked up to a surround-sound speaker system.
It’s also as expected as an over-bearing father or mother being ejected from the tournament, nostalgically reminiscent of Damir Dokic circa Wimbledon 2000 when he got kicked out after arguing about the price of salmon.
But cynicism aside, the Australian Open is a great two weeks, apart from the insomnia it causes as you get engaged in matches and stay up to stupid hours of the night finding out who wins in the fifth.
People from all over the world file in to Melbourne Park to support players from their country of origin with yodelling and wacky songs of support, creating an amazing atmosphere.
Swedes to file in to Melbourne Park with Viking hats on head by the hundreds, matched only by the sea of orange Dutch supporters.
Then there’s the group of Aussies with no ties to the Czech Republic who are devoted to player Tomas Berdych for no other reason than his “awesomeness”.
Every year there’s a buzz player; the character of the tournament who storms in to the final few, capturing the imagination of a nation.
One year it was Marcos Baghdatis, another it was the year of possibly the only Moroccan player anyone can name, Younes El Aynaoui. Another year bespectacled Arnaud Clement took the stage; and 2008 belonged to another Frenchman, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Plus there always an ample amount of glamour girls; some with talent, some without.
The Australian Open is like a pre-prepared script already written, but the names just have to be filled in. Just permanent marker Serena Williams in under Championship winner.