Australian Open

Seven-time Grand Slam champion predicts Australian Open winner

The Australian Open begins at midnight tonight, and seven-time Grand Slam champion Justine Henin has predicted who she thinks will be victorious in two weeks time.

Henin, who won the Australian Open in 2004, is a tennis expert for the first Grand Slam of the year, which is which is live and exclusive on discovery+ and Eurosport.

The former No.1 spoke of how Novak Djokovic had to be the favourite for the men’s title, due to his pedigree in Australia, but could not rule defending champion Rafael Nadal out.

“On the men’s side, Novak Djokovic will be the big favourite but it will be so close. It will be such an interesting tournament. Novak has won so much and so many times that he will be the biggest favourite for a lot of people.”

“For Rafa, what he did last year was a huge surprise. Not a surprise that he found the resource because he is such a hard worker and when he gets confidence he is so dangerous. He has the experience and mentality even after a long injury. He can always make it.”

She adds, “A lot of people asked questions about his form at the moment, physically. He is a Dad now and has to deal with new things in his life. But he is a huge professional. He will want to win that first match this year to try and advance in the tournament. We missed the best Rafa at the end of the season, especially at the Masters. He was far from his best level but that does not mean he won’t be able to find that level again in future.”

Henin knows what it takes to be the best player on the WTA tour, and believes that Iga Swiatek can dominate women’s tennis for the foreseeable future.

“Iga Swiatek is by far the number one and she has been so dominant, winning two Slams last year, but it will be a little bit more difficult for her in the second half of the season with a lot of points to defend. There will be more questions for her this season with how she can deal with pressure with a lot of points to defend. She won two Slams last year and the last one in New York and proved she is the best player in the world including on hard courts. But the women’s game is quite open, especially at the beginning of the season.”

The Belgian suggested that the top two American players could be Swiatek’s biggest challengers, “Jessica Pegula has become so consistent and is smart but needs a little bit more to go further. We will keep looking at Coco Gauff and her development this year too. They can be dangerous for Iga for sure, but if we think about long distance over the season, Swiatek is quite comfortable as the world No.1.”

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.