Aus­tralian Open

The Washington Post Sunday - - COURTSIDE - — Liz Clarke

The 2011 ten­nis sea­son gets un­der way in earnest with the cal­en­dar’s first ma­jor, the Aus­tralian Open, on Mon­day (Sun­day night in the United States). Here’s a look at three fa­vorites and one long-shot to watch in each draw:

MEN

Rafael Nadal

Spain, 24 years old. Ma­jor ti­tles: 9. Aus­tralian Open ti­tles: 1 (2009). World No. 1 bat­tling a cold as he seeks fourth con­sec­u­tive ma­jor, a feat not achieved since Rod Laver in 1969. Roger Fed­erer

Switzer­land, 29 years old. Ma­jor ti­tles: 16. Aus­tralian Open ti­tles: 4 (2004, ’06, ’07, ’10). De­fend­ing champ ar­rives rested and in form, mak­ing him a co-fa­vorite with Nadal.

No­vak Djokovic

Ser­bia, 23 years old.

Ma­jor ti­tles: 1. Aus­tralian Open ti­tles: 1 (2008). The gifted Serb, seeded third, played a bril­liant U.S. Open fi­nal against Nadal, sug­gest­ing a dan­ger­ous new ma­tu­rity.

Juan Martin del Potro

Ar­gentina, 22 years old.

Ma­jor ti­tles: 1. Aus­tralian Open ti­tles: 0. The 2009 U.S. Open vic­tor re­turns for his first ma­jor since wrist surgery, now un­seeded and ranked 259th.

WOMEN

Kim Cli­jsters

Bel­gium, 27 years old.

Ma­jor ti­tles: 3. Aus­tralian Open ti­tles: 0. Come­back Queen is the most men­tally strong com­peti­tor on tour; seeks a first ma­jor other than U.S. Open.

Venus Wil­liams

United States, 30 years old.

Ma­jor ti­tles: 7. Aus­tralian Open ti­tles: 0. Huge serve, hard-court prow­ess should make fourth seed a con­tender for her first ma­jor not on grass since 2001.

Caro­line Woz­ni­acki

Den­mark, 20 years old.

Ma­jor ti­tles: 0. Aus­tralian Open ti­tles: 0. Top-ranked, top-seeded Dane has yet to win a ma­jor; played weary­ing num­ber of tour­na­ments in 2010.

Jus­tine Henin

Bel­gium, 28 years old.

Ma­jor ti­tles: 7. Aus­tralian Open ti­tles: 1 (2004). Fell to Ser­ena Wil­liams in last year’s fi­nal af­ter un-re­tir­ing af­ter 20 months; side­lined by el­bow in­jury at Wim­ble­don.

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