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Wimbledon Women's Singles preview: Little hope for Australian glory

As recently as 2021, Australia celebrated a Wimbledon women's singles champions as Ash Barty defeated Karolina Pliskova in three sets.

Barty joined Margaret Court (1970) and Evonne Goolagong Cawley (1971 & 1980) as the only Australian women to claim the title at SW19 during the Open Era.

However, fast forward just two years and there is only one Australian included in the Wimbledon main draw before the qualifiers are confirmed and, with the best will in the world, Daria Saville is not a major contender to go all the way.

Alja Tomljanvic would have offered a much greater prospect of success, but she will miss the tournament due to ongoing injury problems.

WhatWimbledon women's singles 2023
WhereAll England Club, London, England
WhenMonday 3rd July - Saturday 15th July 2023
How to watchChannel 9, Foxtel, Kayo
OddsIga Swiatek 4.33, Aryna Sabalenka 5.00, Elelna Rybakina 5.00, Ons Jabeur 11.00, Petra Kvitova 13.00  

Tomljanovic absence a huge miss

Tomljanovic appeared to be entering the best phase of her career last year, becoming the first Australian woman since Wendy Turnbull in 1981 to reach successive Wimbledon quarter-finals.

She then made the last eight at the US Open to become the first Aussie lady since Goolagong Cawley in 1979 to reach the quarters at both SW19 and Flushing Meadows in the same year.

However, with 2023 shaping up to be a big year, Tomljanvic has been sidelined with a knee injury and has been unable to return to the court, having last played at the Billie Jean King Cup finals in November of last year.

Her absence is all the more significant given the lack of back-up in the Australian ranks, with Tomljanvic having lost out to the eventual winner in the last eight at Wimbledon in both 2021 and 2022.

Two years ago, it was compatriot Barty who saw off Tomljanovic, while 12 months later she was edged out in three sets by Elena Rybakina, having taken the first set against the Kazakh.

Rybakina looking for a repeat

Defending champion Rybakina is one of a trio of players who are expected to be the main challengers for the title, alongside world number one Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka.

Rybakina took advantage of a depleted field in 2022 to go all the way at SW19, although reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon on her debut 12 months earlier showed that her game is ideally suited to the grass.

Her run to glory naturally seemed to boost her confidence and reaching the Australian Open final earlier this year showed that she is no one-hit wonder.

Illness forced her to pull out after reaching the third round at the French Open and doubts over her match fitness are perhaps the main reason to query whether 5.00 Rybakina can retain her title.

The player who defeated Rybakina in Melbourne was Sabalenka, who claimed her maiden Grand Slam title in the process and she has a lost opportunity to make up for at Wimbledon this year.

The 25-year-old Belarusian was unable to compete at SW19 12 months ago, having made the semi-finals back in 2021 before losing out to Karolina Pliskova.

That absence seems only to have spurred Sabalenka on, as she reached the last four at the US Open last year before triumphing in Melbourne and then going on to make the semi-finals at the French Open.

She is rated a 5.00 chance to win Wimbledon and her hard-hitting ground strokes are certain to be a major weapon, with Sabalenka needing to back those up with good use of her powerful serve.

Grass the final hurdle for Swiatek

That leaves us with Swiatek, the undoubted best player in the world, although she has yet to show her true class on the grass.

The 22-year-old Pole is 4.33 to triumph at Wimbledon, having already amassed four Grand Slam titles, including three wins in four years at the French Open.

A run to glory at the US Open last year also showed that she has the game to succeed on hard courts, but she has so far been unable to make a major impact at Wimbledon.

Swiatek reached the fourth round at SW19 in 2021, before being knocked out in the third round 12 months later.

However, her exit two years came in three sets at the hands of 11.00 Ons Jabeur - who would go on to reach the final in 2022 before losing out to Rybakina - so there is little to worry about there.

A straight-sets loss in the third round to Alize Cornet last year was a little more concerning, with the pressure of being top seed perhaps having an effect on Swiatek.

However, she is certain to want to put things right this time around and there are no reasons not to expect her to be the player to beat.

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