With the fourth round wrapping up and the quarterfinal matches upon us at the 2020 Australian Open in Melbourne, speculations over who will champion the tournament are beginning to circle. With big names out of the Grand Slam runnings early, the door is wide open for a number of players to claim the major victory.
Early shocking losses include 23-time Grand Slam tournament winner, Serena Williams, who fell to Qiang Wang in the third round matchup, as well as Caroline Wozniacki, whose loss marked the end of her 15-year career in professional tennis. Defending champion, Naomi Osaka, also lost in two sets early on in the tournament to American phenom, Coco Gauff. In the men’s draw, 6th seed, Stefanos Tsitsipas, fell in three sets to Canada’s Milos Raonic, and 18th seed Grigor Dimitrov lost early in the second round in a grueling five-setter to unseeded American, Tommy Paul.
Although there have been some unexpected upsets throughout the tournament, some big names still remain in the running for the title. On the women’s side, former No. 1, Simona Halep, as well as Grand Slam two-time champion, Petra Kvitova, remain in contention. In the men’s draw, most recognizable names still remain, including No. 1 seed, Rafael Nadal, world No. 2, Novak Djokovic, and world No. 3, Roger Federer.
With so many top ranked players and big names still playing in Melbourne, it will surely be a fight to the finish to see who will be 2020’s champion. Here are our predictions for the women’s singles and men’s singles champions for A.O. 2020.
Women’s Singles Champion: Simona Halep
First off, Halep’s resume is not often matched. The Romanian world No. 3, who held the No. 1 slot in 2017, already has two Grand Slam titles under her belt. She won the French Open in 2018, followed by her next major title at Wimbledon in 2019. With over $35 million in prize money, Halep has also experienced an A.O. final before when she was defeated by Caroline Wozniacki in 2018.
In the 2020 tournament so far, Halep has not been forced into a third deciding set. Not only does this help build confidence going into the latter end of the tournament, but it also helps with diminishing the effects of fatigue. Halep easily took out world No. 17, Elise Mertens, in the fourth round, prepping her for her quarterfinal match coming up.
The latter end of the tournament will prove more challenging for Halep, but her early high level of play has prepared her for her more difficult opponents. In the quarters, she will face world No. 31, Anett Kontaveit, who only has one singles title to her name. Assuming that Halep can get through to the semis, she will likely face the winner of a Kiki Bertens versus Angelique Kerber matchup. No matter the winner of this quarterfinal match, Halep should be able to battle through and win against either opponent, as she is ranked higher and has had an easier tournament with better preparation than either potential opponent.
The most likely final’s matchup for Halep would be current world No. 1 and hometown favorite, Ashleigh Barty. While Barty would have the home-court advantage as well as an easy draw behind her, she is less experienced and will likely be overwhelmed by nerves on the big stage. Barty has nine career titles, while Halep has more than twice that with 19. In addition, Barty only has a single Grand Slam title while Halep has two.
With all of these factors combined, Halep should be on her way to her third Grand Slam title and an incredible start to the 2020 season.
Men’s Singles Champion: Novak Djokovic
Not only is Novak Djokovic one of the most recognizable names in all of tennis, he also has the experience and resume to prove he has what it takes to win the Australian Open. Novak won the A.O. in 2019, making it his record seventh title at the major in Melbourne. The Serbian player also has a total of 16 Grand Slam titles to his name.
Despite likely having to face world No. 3, Roger Federer, in the semifinals followed by world No. 1, Rafael Nadal, in the finals, Djokovic has proven that neither of these opponents poses a detrimental threat to him.
Like Halep, Djokovic has had a relatively easy tournament, only forced into a fourth set in one match so far. Contrastingly, Federer has already been forced into a five-setter as well as a four-setter, increasing his fatigue and decreasing his confidence going into his quarterfinal match against American Tennys Sandgren.
Despite Nadal’s domination of clay court championships, Djokovic has recently proved he can beat the world No. 1. Djokovic defeated the Spaniard earlier this month at the A.T.P. Cup and also beat Nadal at last year’s A.O. final in Melbourne.
Withstanding potential injuries and pressure, Novak Djokovic should be well on his way to his 17th major title.