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Australian Open: Barty the one to catch

Ashleigh Barty could well be the player to beat in 2022 after she ended Australia's 44-year wait for a home Grand Slam women's singles champion.

The home favourite defeated Danielle Collins and the world number one now needs only the US Open to claim all four majors and complete the Grand Slam collection.

The 25-year-old had already ticked off the French Open in 2019 and Wimbledon last year and can now add the Australian Open to her growing list of accolades.

The Queenslander fought back from 5-1 down in the second set to win 6-3 7-6 in front of a packed-out Rod Laver Arena, becoming the first Australian to win a singles title in Melbourne since Chris O'Neil in 1978.

It was a deserved success for the home favourite, who won her seven assignments without dropping a set and lost only 30 games in total.

Victory over Collins continued Barty's remarkable run in 2022 with her title triumph in the Adelaide International meaning she has now won all 11 of her singles matches this year.

Given her consistency and versatility regarding surface, Barty is evidently the player they all have to eclipse and the Australian star is 5/1 to win the French Open again in June, which you can catch on our Sports Live Streaming hub.

The world number one is 9/2 to defend her Wimbledon crown in July and 4/1 to complete a career Grand Slam at the US Open in September.

Barty is 3/1 to win back-to-back Australian Open titles in 2023.

Collins can show final run was no fluke

Collins came closer than most to spoiling Barty's party and the American 27th seed has a game that can take her further up the rankings.

The right-handed Floridian enjoyed a stellar 2021, winning titles in Palermo and San Jose, and hit the ground running with her runner-up berth at the Australian Open.

Collins was also a semi-finalist in Melbourne in 2019, so has shown she can handle the pressure of going deep in Grand Slams and her power-packed game is well-suited to the challenge.

The 27-year-old still has time on her side and her efforts at Melbourne Park should have installed her with plenty of confidence given she had blown away seventh seed Iga Swiatek 6-4 6-1 in the last four.

There are plenty of strings to Collins' bow, however, given her title triumph in Palermo came on clay and she also reached the quarter-finals of the French Open two years ago.

The American is 14/1 to go one better in Melbourne next year and is available at 50/1 for French Open glory in the summer. Expect her to make rapid progress over the course of the season.

Swiatek's French Open claims look crystal clear

Swiatek was readily swatted aside by Collins in the semi-finals Down Under but clay is the Pole's game, so expect her to make a bold bid for silverware at the French Open.

The 20-year-old won the Paris major in 2020 and although a beaten quarter-finalist last year, that effort came on the back of a title triumph in Rome and she may have simply ran out of steam.

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However, Swiatek would have learned plenty from last year's schedule and her efforts in Melbourne certainly enhance her claims of victory in France.

The Warsaw girl is a clay-court specialist and is also a model of consistency in the elite events, with her failing to make the fourth round only once in her last eight Grand Slam appearances.

The world number nine is 9/2 to win the French Open in June and that is a price well worth considering.

Sabalenka could soon have her day in the sun

World number two Aryna Sabalenka looked uncharacteristically vulnerable on serve throughout the Australian Open but battled through her problems to make the fourth round.

With some reports suggesting she was struggling with the yips, that was a decent effort and, if able to build on that, the big-hitting Belarusian could have a successful season.

Sabalenka has been mopping up the titles on the WTA Tour - winning 10 in total - and she did reach the semi-finals at both the US Open and Wimbledon last year.

Clay has never really suited Sabalenka's ruthless style, so those look like the best two destinations again if she is to break her Grand Slam hoodoo.

It is surely only a matter of time until the powerful 23-year-old, who has a similar style game to Serena Williams, stamps her authority on the majors. She is 8/1 to win at Wimbledon and 9/1 to triumph at the US Open.

Tauson a youngster on the rise

Britain's US Open heroine Emma Raducanu, her final victim Leylah Fernandez and Cori Gauff are three up-and-coming stars that rightly grab the headlines, but Danish teenager Clara Tauson could be a youngster to keep on side.

The 19-year-old is already a two-time winner on the WTA Tour and she also defeated Raducanu to land a Chicago Challenger event in August of last year.

Tauson has had limited opportunities to show her promise on the big stage but she would have earned plenty of fans for her efforts at the Australian Open.

The Dynamic Dane upset sixth seed Anett Kontaveit in round two before pushing eventual runner-up Collins all the way in a 6-4 4-6 5-7 defeat.

Given her tender years and obvious inexperience, that was an almighty effort from Tauson who could spring a surprise before the year comes to a close.

The Copenhagen-born girl is destined for big things and is 80/1 to win at the French Open, while she is 80/1 for Wimbledon glory.

That said, a hard surface would appear to see her in the best light and she may warrant more consideration for the US Open, where she is 33/1.

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