Serena Williams used to be practically unbeatable in grand slam finals, winning 21 of the first 25 that she played. So, to see her lose six of her last eight, including four in a row in straight sets since her return from maternity leave, has been perplexing.
The working theory for some time has been that she needs to rediscover the winning feeling by picking up a title elsewhere on the WTA Tour and transferring that experience onto the grand slam stage.
Now that she has finally done that by winning in Auckland, the Tennis Podcast team discuss her chances of winning a record-equalling 24th grand slam at the Australian Open over the next few weeks.
In what way did playing doubles alongside Caroline Wozniacki in Auckland help to sharpen up Serena’s game and keep her in a good frame of mind? How much of a boost is it to Serena’s prospects that US Open champion Bianca Andreescu has been forced to withdraw through injury? And do the conditions in Melbourne suit Serena more than at any other grand slam?
Elsewhere, there’s plenty of debate about the meaning of Serbia’s ATP Cup victory, the possible solutions to tennis’ team event conundrum, and whether or not Novak Djokovic will be able to peak again in Melbourne so soon after his exertions at the ATP Cup.
Who is most likely to beat Djokovic? How much is Roger Federer relying on a kind draw after not playing a warm-up event? And why does Rafael Nadal look so knackered at the start of the season?
The Tennis Podcast is produced weekly throughout the year and daily at the grand slam tournaments, in association with Telegraph Sport.