Serena Williams may have decisive Australian Open advantage, says top analyst

Serena Williams can turn her rivals lack of preparation into an Australian Open advantage, says former world number one Mats Wilander.

Williams will attempt to win her 24th Grand Slam singles title in Melbourne this month, and her record alone puts her among the favourites.

She has not won a Grand Slam since 2016, although she has gone close having reached four finals in recent years.

This year’s Australian Open will be unique though in that quarantine rules have meant players have not been able to prepare as thoroughly as usual.

And that, according to Wilander, could make Serena Williams’ experience and mental strength a decisive factor.

“I think it can mentally work to her advantage because she’s clever enough to be able to tell herself, ‘These guys haven’t practised that hard and I’m Serena and I’m not losing to you’,” said Wilander.

“But she’s fighting against everyone, she’s going to have to win seven matches and she hasn’t served well for three years.

“I don’t know if technically she’s sharp enough to be able to hang with (the younger players) and then turn it into a mental battle on big points.

“I’m not sure if she’s getting closer to the old Serena or whether she’s getting further away from that.

“The women’s game has advanced further in the last few years than the men’s game. She hasn’t been able to stay ahead of the curve.”

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