Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow – except for us as we head Down Under to cover the start of the 2019 Grand Slam season.

But before we look ahead, let’s remind ourselves of what happened in 2018.

2018 began in Melbourne, Roger Federer proved age is no barrier to success with another major – his 20th – at the Australian Open.
Bizzarely perhaps , Caroline Wozniacki won her first!

Then, as expected, Rafa dominated again in Paris with Simona Halep at last showing she is a force to be reckoned with on tennis, winning the women’s crown.

Wimbledon saw a comeback – as Novak Djokovic won on grass and kept winning through the rest of the year.

2018 was blighted by an incident at the US Open, we’d rather forget.

Naomi Osaka, the Japanese/Haitian/American kid powered her way to the title at Flushing Meadows, but not before the legendary Serena Williams imploded with a rant at the umpire the went global.

Williams is a much better player than one incident, but it left a sour taste with many in the game, as she attempts to beat Margaret Court’s slam record.

Federer and Williams both turn 38 in 2019 – so can they still compete at the very top of such a demanding sport?

Melbourne will tell much as both will be pushing for another crown.

Martin del Potro and a returning Rafa Nadal hot on his heels. Throw in Marin Cilic and Dominic Thiem and it looks a very interesting start to the Grand Slam season.

I wouldn’t rule out the likes of big servers like Kevin Anderson and John Isner on the hard Melbourne courts – an upset or two, but probably not enough to actually win the event.

Australia is on the comeback trail with a group of quality kids who could also provide home fans with something to cheer about.

Alex De Minaur is a star in the making, probably more so than the erratic Nick Kyrgios.

John Millman got his name up in lights in New York, but the Brisbane boy isn’t a patch on what many think De Minaur could produce.

As for the women, well there’s some quality chasing Williams and Elina Svitolina is my dark horse in Melbourne, followed by Halep, Muguruza, Osaka, Cornet and Sloane Stephens, who had a poor 2018 compared to her magical 2017 in New York.

 

But all eyes will undoubtably be on Serena, chasing Grand Slam No. 24 with Melbourne her best option, given Halep will probably dominate at Roland Garros.Outside bets? Names we’ve forgotten … Andy Murray, if fit, could be a threat at Wimbledon.

2019 PREDICTIONS

Australian: Men’s – Djokovic. Women’s: Williams

French: Men’s: Nadal. Women’s: Halep

Wimbledon: Zverev. Women’s: Osaka

US: Men’s: Federer. Women’s: Stephens

Time for new balls for new stars?

Bring it on.

Merry Christmas to all our readers and followers – Catch you in sunny Melbourne in a few weeks.

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