When Serena Williams lost the 2016 Australian Open final to Angelique Kerber, few would have imagined that she would end the year below the German in the WTA rankings.

Kerber used her maiden grand slam victory as a springboard to the number one ranking but Williams’ pedigree sees her begin the tournament as favourite at 11/4.

The only worry for Williams, 35, is how long her body will be able to cope. Was 2016 a blip or was it the beginning of a permanent decline?

As for Kerber (7/2), will she be able to stay at the level she found last year? Her counter-punching style is entertaining but she lacks Williams’ ability to dictate terms on court.

Away from last year’s finalists, a few contenders emerge.Simona Halep (7/1) has been threatening to bag a grand slam for a year or two now.

Current French Open champion Garbine Muguruza will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing second half of the year as she struggled to build on her Paris victory.

The tall Spaniard (also 7/1) has all the tools to dominate the sport, if only she could find some consistency.

Czech Karolina Pliskova completes a trio of players hot on the heels of Williams and Kerber at 7/1 and her run to the final at the US Open last year suggests she ought to be taken seriously.

Johanna Konta (25/1) became the first British woman to reach the world’s top 10 in 32 years but does she have a grand slam victory in her?

Last year she came close with a semi-final showing in Melbourne, the surface suits her and, being Sydney-born, winning in the country she left at 14 would be an emotional moment.

After a few years in the wilderness, former world number one Caroline Wozniacki made it to the semi-finals at the US Open in September and the Dane might just have rediscovered the style that took her to the top of the sport.

Always a stylish player, at a promising 5/1 she could well be worth an each way bet.

A wildcard pick could be Monica Puig. The powerful Puerto Rican impressed to win at the Olympics in Rio and she will be a tricky opponent for most, so 9/1 on her reaching the last four is tempting. 

Chances of Australian success are minimal, though Sam Stosur (100/1 outright) and Daria Gavrilova (120/1 outright) offer value.

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