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Australian Open: Raducanu looks to replicate US Open heroics

At the head of the betting for the 2022 Australian Open Women are the usual suspects of Ashleigh Barty, Naomi Osaka and Garbine Muguruza but as last year's US Open demonstrated, the Grand Slams are far from foregone conclusions.

Following unseeded Briton Emma Raducanu's sensational victory at Flushing Meadows in the final Grand Slam event of 2021, it is worth looking at some other outsiders who could cause a stir in Melbourne between 17th-30th January, with all the action on the Sports Live Streaming.

Potent Swiatek a contender

Currently ninth in the WTA rankings, Iga Swiatek of Poland already has one Grand Slam title to her name, having prevailed at the French Open in a terrific breakthrough campaign in 2020.

She defeated American Sofia Kenin 6-4 6-1 in that final, having never gone beyond the fourth round in any of the other three Grand Slam tournaments.

And this could be the year that the 20-year-old, who is the youngest player inside the WTA top ten, really makes a name for herself. She is 12/1 to win the Australian Open.

Preparations for the first Grand Slam of the season have gone fairly well with a run to the semi-finals of the Adelaide International, in which she was beaten by home star Barty, although she managed to win only one of her three matches at the WTA Finals at the end of 2021.

Raducanu could roar

Set to play Swiatek in the first round of the upcoming Sydney Tennis Classic, another preparation tournament for the Australian Open, is British starlet Raducanu.

The Canadian-born talent won the hearts of the United Kingdom when she defied all expectations to win the 2021 US Open in New York, having started in the qualifiers and winning all ten of her matches without dropping a single set.

She went on to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award last year, a title she is 9/1 to retain in 2022, and all eyes will be on her going into her first major event since that title triumph.

The 19-year-old has since struggled slightly, losing her first match at the Indian Wells Masters and only making it as far as the quarter-finals at the Transylvania Open when up against a weak field.

But a new year brings with it new hope and Raducanu will be eager to prove that the US Open was not merely a one-off victory but instead the start of something big. She is 16/1 to go all the way in Melbourne.

"You have to lose one to win one"

Defeated by Raducanu in the final of last year's US Open was Canadian Leylah Fernandez and she is another talent worth monitoring at the 2022 Australian Open, having been priced at 20/1 to win the title.

Also a competent doubles player, Fernandez's extraordinary run to the US Open women's final as an unseeded player last year was somewhat overshadowed by Raducanu winning the match and the tournament.

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And Fernandez should not be discounted heading into the Australian Open, having defeated second seed Aryna Sabalenka, Ukrainian star Elina Svitolina and Japanese ace Naomi Osaka on her way to the final in New York.

Like all young players, she still has a lot to learn and will have felt disappointed with her 6-1 6-2 defeat to Pole Swiatek in the Adelaide International recently. However, she has excelled against the odds before and could do so again at 20/1.

Badosa eyes Melbourne breakthrough

Spaniard Paula Badosa has never made it beyond the second round of the Australian Open but is 14/1 to win the tournament this year, showing how far she has come in the last 12 months or so.

Badosa, 24, reached the round of 16 at Wimbledon last year but arguably her biggest success of the season came three months later when she won the Indian Wells Masters.

Her run to the final involved some big wins over Coco Gauff, Barbora Krejcikova and Angelique Kerber before she got the better of veteran Victoria Azarenka.

That success had followed a coaching change and she did not stop there, following victory in California with a run to the semi-finals of the season-ending WTA Finals.

Powerful Jabeur could surprise

Another player who rose to the occasion at the Indian Wells Masters was Tunisian Ons Jabeur, who lost to Badosa in the tournament's semi-finals.

That capped off a solid 2021 season in which she reached her first Wimbledon quarter-final, losing out to second seed Sabalenka, having previously gone all the way in the Birmingham Classic.

She tied with Estonia's Anett Kontaveit for most tour wins in 2021 with 48 triumphs but was unable to make the WTA Finals after an elbow injury disrupted the end to her season.

An exciting player to watch and a powerful hitter, Jabeur is another one punters must keep an eye on and she can be backed at 33/1 to win the first Grand Slam title of the campaign.

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