Australian Open: Kvitova rightful favourite as Clijsters suffers injury

The new year is already shaping up very nicely for Petra Kvitova – and things could get even better at the Australian Open later this month.

The Wimbledon champion defeated current World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki in the Hopman Cup in Perth in the early hours of Friday and continues to impress.

She won 7-6 (7-4) 3-6 6-4 to help the Czech Republic to the final of the team event and she continues to be a force to be reckoned with in women’s tennis.

The World No.2 will overtake Wozniacki and claim the top spot in the world rankings if she wins the Sydney International next week – but she will have bigger targets in the coming weeks.

She is currently joint favourite with Serena Williams to win the first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open, at 3/1 and everything appears to be falling into place for the 21-year-old.

Williams was forced to quit the Brisbane International after spraining her ankle in her second-round win over Bojana Jovanovski, while Kvitova’s victory over Wozniacki means both players have won three encounters in their six meetings.

There was more good news – for the Czech at least – with defending Australian Open champion Kim Clijsters being forced to retire in her semi-final match against Daniela Hantuchova on Friday.

Clijsters’ hip injury means less court time for the four-time Grand Slam champion and leaves Kvitova in a great position heading to Melbourne Park.

With Kvitova continuing to improve and several of her closest rivals struggling for form and fitness, backing her to triumph in the Australian Open later this month could lead to a very decent payout.