Australian Open preview

Camila Giorgi. Photo: Peter Haskin

With the Australian Open to begin at Melbourne Park on January 14, REBECCA DAVIS previews the Jewish players who are in the men’s and ladies’ singles draws.

 

DIEGO SCHWARTZMAN (Argentina)

With a singles ranking of 19, Diego Schwartzman is the highest ranked Jewish
contender in the Australian Open. At 26 years of age, the Argentine had 33 wins and 26 losses for 2018 – his greatest highlight being when he knocked out Fernando Verdasco to claim the Rio de Janeiro Open in February. In another stellar effort, Schwartzman made the quarterfinals at the French Open only to lose to Rafael Nadal in four sets. It was deja vu, having also gone down to Nadal when they met in the fourth round of the Australian Open earlier in the year. Schwartzman is competing at the Sydney International ahead of the Open, and was due to play Andreas Seppi in the semi-finals on January 11. At the Australian Open, he will face a qualifier in the first round.

DENIS SHAPOVALOV (Canada)

At 19 years of age, Denis Shapovalov is a young gun to watch. Born in Tel Aviv and raised in Canada, “Shapo” only turned pro in 2017, yet holds a singles ranking of 27. With a career win-loss record of 49-43, Shapovalov made his Australian Open debut last year, but was defeated by veteran Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a five-set blockbuster in the second round. While it may have just been Shapovalov’s third grand slam main draw, it was the beginning of an upward trajectory for 2018 which peaked when he ascended the heights of men’s singles to rank 23rd in the world. He also played in the semifinals at Madrid, Tokyo and Delray Beach. While Shapovalov may have lost to Portugal’s Joao Sousa in the ASB Classic in Auckland earlier this week, don’t rule him out of the Open. Many pundits see him as a dark horse. In the first round he will play 82nd ranked Spaniard Pablo Andujar.

CAMILA GIORGI (Italy)

In the 2018 Australian Open, Camila Giorgi lost in the second round to Aussie Ash Barty. But at that time, the Italian had a singles ranking of 71 – and now she is at 27. Giorgi went on to reach the quarterfinals in Lugano, and Wimbledon, only to go down in three sets to Serena Williams. She kicked off 2019 at the Sydney International, only to be defeated in the second round by Angelique Kerber 6-7, 2-6 on Tuesday. Her first opponent at the Australian Open will be Slovenia’s Dalila Jakupovic who is ranked 82.

MADISON BRENGLE (US)

She is a true baseliner with a fiery backhand who favours Wimbledon’s grass surface. 28-year-old Madison Brengle holds a singles ranking of 89 and while she didn’t progress past the first round of the Australian Open, she won ITF titles at Midland, Stockton and Landisville. She ended 2018 at Auckland’s ASB Classic losing to Canadian Eugenie Bouchard 3-6, 3-6. Brengle will begin her Australian Open singles campaign with a first round match against a qualifier. She may also figure in the doubles – the draw for that will be released on January 14.