For the next two weeks, all the eyes of the tennis world will be on Australia for the 2022 Australian Open.
Whilst the majority of tennis fans will be watching from afar, those from Australia will be able to watch the amazing talent bunched together at Melbourne Park first-hand.
For the Australian fans who are lucky enough to watch the Aussies in action, they will be treated to a total of 18 singles players and 40 doubles players.
Among these singles players, there are a total of 10 men and eight women who will all be fighting for the Australian Open trophy.
Focussing on the women's side first, it is hard to go past the superstar world number one Ash Barty as our best shot.
Despite reaching the quarter-finals the last three years at Melbourne Park, Ash has just fallen short on each of these occasions.
However, this year, Ash will be hoping to finally go all the way to win her third grand slam and most importantly become Australia's first Australian Open champion since 1978.
As a positive sign of her form, the Queenslander cruised to her first WTA title of 2022 winning the Adelaide International.
Ashleigh Barty wins a title on home soil for the third consecutive season.
The World No.1 wins her 2nd #AdelaideTennis title with a 63 62 win over No.7 seed Elena Rybakina. Seals a week that included wins over Gauff, Kenin, and Swiatek.
Title No.14. pic.twitter.com/NZCb8y0rs3
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) January 9, 2022
Behind her as Australia's best shot is Ajla Tomlijanovic who is coming off a reasonably successful season on tour finishing the year with a ranking of world number 45.
Unfortunately for her, she will go up against the number eight seed Paula Badosa who will test her to the brink. However, if she can win this match, she will not play a higher ranked player than Badosa until the quarter-finals.
Flying under the radar as the underdog story is 26-year-old Astra Sharma, Australia's only other woman ranked inside the top 100. Her big serve will be very important for both her and the Aussie fans as she will try to make it into the second week of the Open.
Meanwhile, veterans Sam Stosur and Daria Saville (Gavrilova) will be looking to wind the clock back and make some noise at the Open.
Rounding out the other Aussie women in the Australian Open are giant-killer Priscilla Hon, Maddison Inglis and Storm Sanders who are all matched against with seeded players in the first Round.
Shifting to the men's side of things, there are plenty of faces; new and old, who will be aiming to go as far as possible in the tournament.
The highest-ranked of them all for the third time in a row is Alex De Minaur who, despite having a disappointing 2021, remains a seeded player in the tournament.
This means that the young Aussie will not play a player ranked any lower than him until the third round. With a few years of professional tennis now under his belt, the gritty 22-year-old will be hoping to make it into the second week of the Open.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 10, 2022
Whilst there are five other Aussies ranked ahead of him, Nick Kyrgios is always a good chance of going far in the tournament. Not only is he naturally talented, but the 26-year-old is always well-supported by the Melbourne Park crowd which goes a long way in big five-set matches.
However, his biggest hurdle will come in the form of Daniil Medvedev; the favourite for the tournament, who he will almost certainly play if he makes it through to the second round. Whilst such a draw is unlucky, if Kyrgios wins this match, he will be granted a very favourable draw.
Meanwhile, experienced heads John Millman, Jordan Thompson and James Duckworth, who had a stellar 2021, will all be hoping to make the most of their relatively favourable draws with the Aussie support behind them.
Our pick to play a huge part in the tournament is Adelaide International champion Thanasi Kokkinakis who will come up against German Yannick Hanfmann in the first round. Whilst Kokkinakis hasn't been historically great at grand slams after a career rife with injury, the 25-year-old Australian is now in great form and extremely well-supported; a combination that has gone a long way in the past. Further, Kokkinaakis is now seemingly fully fit and ready to fire for the world to see.
WOW.... no words🏆
Love you Adelaide ❤️
A day I’ll never forget pic.twitter.com/Gor0zFElm2
— Thanasi Kokkinakis (@TKokkinakis) January 15, 2022
Aleksander Vukic will be another in-form Aussie who will be trying to make some noise at the Australian Open having made the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.
Rounding out the 10 Aussies in action are qualifiers Alex Bolt and Christopher O'Connell who will both go up against unseeded players in their first-round match-ups.
The best chance for the Aussies looks like our own world number one Ash Barty, while the surprise package of the tournament will be none other than Thanasi Kokkinakis.
Overall, the Australian Open looks as if it could be a great one for our Aussies. Packed houses, great players and a superstar world number one ready to rock and roll on Rod Laver Arena.