The 2010 Australian Open begins Monday in Melbourne (Sunday night here in the States) and its being touted as one of the deepest Slams in recent memory. Here are the five biggest storylines to look out for:
1.Belgian battles -- Kim Clijsters came back to tennis last summer and promptly won the first Grand Slam she entered. Her countywoman, Justine Henin, makes her return to Slams at the Aussie. If each can make it past four tough rounds in the "group of death", they'd meet in a highly-anticipated quarterfinal. Clijsters won a three-set thriller in the finals of the Brisbane Invitational earlier this month.
2. Can Roger Federer keep his semifinal streak alive? -- It's his greatest tennis achievement: Roger Federer has made 22 straight semifinals in Grand Slam play. (Pete Sampras's longest streak? Three. The previous record holder was Ivan Lendl with 10.) But to get there in Melbourne he may have to beat Igor Andreev, Lleyton Hewitt, Marcos Baghdatis, Fernando Verdasco and/or Nikolay Davydenko.
3. Will this be Andy Murray's breakthrough Slam? -- He's one of the top mens players in the world, but Brit Andy Murray is still Slam-less. Melbourne hasn't been his favorite locale though. His road won't get any easier due to the fact that he momentarily dropped to No. 5 in the rankings the week the Australian Open seedings came out. That put him in line to meet Rafael Nadal in the quarters, Juan Martin Del Potro in the semis and, possibly, Federer in the finals.
4. Serena -- It's her first Grand Slam since -- well, you know. The scrutiny on her should be intense, but don't expect any similar outburst. Her biggest road block might be numerology: Serena has won the Aussie four times, but all in odd numbered years (2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009).
5. The depth -- The men's side is completely loaded. Davydenko is No. 6, Andy Roddick is No. 7. Marin Cilic is way down the list at No. 14. And guys like James Blake and Marcos Baghdatis are unseeded. The talk in men's tennis has been about the "big two". Those days are gone.
- Roger Federer