Including Swiatek, there are a dozen former Grand Slam winners that have put in entries for the first Major of the year. Swiatek is the early favourite among the field after capturing her second and third Grand Slam titles in Paris and New York last year. There will be three former Australian Open women's singles champions in the field. Two-time winners Victoria Azarenka (2012-13) and Naomi Osaka (2019, 2021) will be present while one-Slam winner Sofia Kenin (2020) is also back for more. Kenin heads a group of 11 players using protected rankings to enter the Slam alongside Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Marketa Vondrousova, Karolina Muchova, Nadia Podoroska, Laura Siegemund, Jaqueline Cristian, Patricia Maria Tig, Evgeniya Rodina, Zheng Saisai and Kristina Kucova. Azarenka was the last women to successfully defend the Australian Open title, winning back to back championships in 2012 and 2013. Of course 2022 champion Ash Barty retired from the sport and will not be defending her title in Melbourne come January. Petra Kvitova, Garbiñe Muguruza, Jelena Ostapenko, Barbora Krejcikova, Elena Rybakina, Sloane Stephens, Bianca Andreescu and Emma Raducanu amount to the remaining Grand Slam champions. Of the WTA Rankings top 20 players only Simona Halep will be absent as she serves a suspension following a positive doping test. No 95-ranked Ysaline Bonaventure rounds out the group of players granted direct entry. Should there be any further withdrawals the players lined up for entry are Harriet Dart, Kateryna Baindl, Dayana Yastremska, Alycia Parks and Margarita Betova. Raducanu is the only British woman to enjoy main draw entry status at this stage although only one withdrawal will ensure that Dart is allowed to step in. Australia has dropped all travel restrictions regarding vaccines and no players of any nationalities are expected to be barred form entry in any way. The WTA season kicks off with the jointly staged United Cup mixed team event. The Australian Open season gets into full swing with the WTA 500 Adelaide International 1 from 3 January. On 16 January 2023 the main draw of the Australian Open will get underway and if everything goes to plan a new women's champion will be crowned on 28 January. Ons Jabeur, Jessica Pegula and Caroline Garcia are all set to be strong contenders in an exciting women's singles field for the first major of 2023.
The article Iga Swiatek leads blockbuster Australian Open field appeared first on Planetsport.com.