Jo Konta (Great Britain)

Age: 26

World Ranking: 9

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In the absence of Andy Murray, England expects greatness from this adopted Australian-Hungarian. Troubled too by a hip problem recently – hopefully not as serious as the Scots’s – Konta has made the quarter finals and semi-finals her in the past two years. Lost out to Svitolina in Brisbane, and she is up against World No 92 Madison Brengle in the first round.

Elina Svitolina (Ukraine)

Age: 23

World Ranking: 4

This one-time mixed doubles partner of Jamie Murray’s has won ten tour titles on her career to date, including the Brisbane title this year, and earned more than $7m. Briefly coached by Justine Henin, Svitolina reached the semi-finals here last year and could be primed to go further this time around.

Ashleigh Barty (Australia)

Age: 21

World Ranking: 17

The Sydney international tournament became an impromptu ‘Barty party’ with this Queenslander reaching the final where she went down to a re-born Angelique Kerber. Amazingly took a stint out of the sport in 2015 when she concentrate on cricket but this pocket rocket is up to 17 in the world and is giving home fans hopes of their first title since Chris O’Neil in 1978.

Jelena Ostapenko (Latvia)

Age: 20

World Ranking: 7

The women’s championships at Melbourne Park is wide open, so why not a second coming for this prodigiously talented young player from Riga on the back of last year’s triumph at Roland Garros? Tough opener against the veteran Francesca Schiavone and patchy form guide which includes an exhibition win against Serena Williams and first round defeats to Ekaterina Makarova and Krystina Pliskova but unplayable on her day.

Maria Sharapova (Russia)

Age: 30

World Ranking: 47

Continues to be a lightning rod for controversy, as Australian Open organisers chose her to bring the trophy on court, not the savviest PR move considering her recent purdah for using the drop meldonium. There was much to admire, though, about Sharapova’s run at the US Open and a tournament without Serena Williams is wide open.