Which players should you look out for at the Australian Open?

Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams will both bid for their seventh Australian Open titles when the first grand slam of the year begins on Monday.

Andy Murray is the top seed at a slam for the first time and will hope finally to get his hands on the trophy after five losing appearances in the tournament’s final.

Women’s No.1 Angelique Kerber defends the title she won 12 months ago while Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal both return from injury-hit 2016 campaigns.

Here, MirrorSport picks out five other men and women to watch at Melbourne Park.

MILOS RAONIC

The big-serving Canadian is at his highest ranking of three and has his sights firmly set on a first slam title. He came very close to upsetting Murray in the semi-finals 12 months ago and then lost to the Scot in his first slam final at Wimbledon. Raonic has worked extremely hard on his weaknesses, most notably his backhand, and has developed a strong net game.

NICK KYRGIOS

It is impossible to know what to expect from the mercurial 21-year-old Australian. This will be Kyrgios’ first major tournament since he was banned from the tour for his conduct in a match in Shanghai last October. A condition of his return was that he underwent counselling, and it remains to be seen whether that will make a difference. But there is no doubting Kyrgios’ talent and he usually performs best on the biggest stage. He reached the quarter-finals in Melbourne two years ago.

GRIGOR DIMITROV

The Bulgarian has been rejuvenated since linking up with Murray’s former coach Dani Vallverdu last summer. His ranking had dropped as low as 40 but is now back up to 15 after one of the best weeks of his career in Brisbane. Dimitrov beat top-10 players Dominic Thiem, Raonic and Kei Nishikori to win the Australian Open warm-up tournament and poses a real danger in Melbourne.

The 19-year-old is the world’s highest-ranked teenager and it appears a matter of when rather than if he will win a grand slam title. German Zverev has an excellent temperament and few weaknesses and can already boast two wins over Federer, including this month at the Hopman Cup. He defeated Stan Wawrinka to win his first ATP Tour event in St Petersburg last September.

DANIIL MEDVEDEV

The 20-year-old was ranked outside the top 300 this time last year but has had a rapid rise and will make his grand slam debut in Melbourne. Medvedev began the year by reaching his first ATP Tour final in Chennai to climb to 65 in the rankings. With fellow 20-year-old Karen Khachanov also a rising star, Russian men’s tennis looks set for a resurgence.

KAROLINA PLISKOVA

It has been a shaky start to the season for the leading women, with the exception of Pliskova. The fifth-ranked Czech breezed to the title in Brisbane last weekend and, after her breakthrough grand slam at the US Open last summer, a first title appears close. Pliskova defeated Williams before losing narrowly to Kerber in New York, experience that will surely stand her in good stead.

ELINA SVITOLINA

The Ukrainian’s fine 2016 went under the radar but the signs are there that she is ready for an ever bigger 2017. Svitolina’s standout result was beating Williams at the Olympics in Rio, while she won a WTA Tour title in Kuala Lumpur and reached two other finals. This season she has already beaten Kerber and, as the 11th seed in Melbourne, can expect a reasonably favourable draw.

DARIA KASATKINA

A new name to many tennis fans but expect Russian Kasatkina to make waves this year. The feisty teenager is already ranked in the top 30 and has given a lot of the top players a fright. This week she converted on that promise by defeating Kerber in Sydney.

KATERINA SINIAKOVA

Another player well under the radar, Siniakova is the latest in a production line of Czech talent. She began 2017 by beating Simona Halep and Johanna Konta on her way to a first WTA Tour title in Shenzhen. An unseeded player all the leading names will hope to avoid.

EUGENIE BOUCHARD

Much has happened to Bouchard since she became the darling of the tennis world with her run to the Australian Open semi-finals in 2014. A Wimbledon final followed then a spectacular slump as she struggled with the expectations placed upon her. But, older and wiser and reunited with top coach Thomas Hogstedt, Bouchard is showing promising signs once again.

This article was sourced from http://newsxhd.com