Australian Open

Australian Open 2014: Latest Buzz Surrounding Banged-Up Contenders

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 30:  Sloane Stephens of the United States plays a backhand to Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain in the women's singles match during day three of the Hopman Cup at Perth Arena on December 30, 2013 in Perth, Australia.  (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Paul Kane/Getty Images
Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IJanuary 8, 2014

The 2014 Australian Open is less than a week away, which means time is running out for a handful of banged-up contenders who are hoping to heal up in time for the season's first Grand Slam.

While favorites like Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka appear to be healthy and rested heading into the Happy Slam, there are plenty of dark-horse threats battling troublesome injuries. 

Here we'll get you up to speed on how some notable contenders are feeling ahead of January's Aussie Open.

 

Sloane Stephens, John Isner on Track to Play

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 30:  John Isner of the United States plays a forehand in the men's singles match against  Daniel Munoz-De La Nava of Spain during day three of the Hopman Cup at Perth Arena on December 30, 2013 in Perth, Australia.  (Photo by W
Will Russell/Getty Images

American hopefuls Sloane Stephens and John Isner both appear ready to suit up in Melbourne this January after picking up injuries at the start of the new year, according to ESPN.

Stephens was forced to retire against Petra Kvitova in the Hopman Cup on Jan. 3 because of a sore left wrist, per USA Today.

"I was having some pain in my wrist and the doctor recommended I not play this week," she said.

Healthy or not, expectations will be high for Stephens at Melbourne Park. The 20-year-old upset Serena Williams in the quarterfinals at the Aussie Open last year en route to reaching her first-ever Grand Slam semifinal.

Meanwhile, Isner is optimistic that he'll be ready to go Down Under after tweaking his ankle in a recent training session, per The Sydney Morning Herald's Justin Chadwick: "What I do know is I don't think it's as severe as what happened to me last year. So hopefully I can get fit and get ready for the Australian Open."

The 28-year-old Isner has never been past the fourth round in Australia and hasn't played in the year's first major since 2012.

 

Caroline Wozniacki Battling Shoulder Pain

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 07:  Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark looks dejected after losing a point in her match against Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic during day three of the 2014 Sydney International at Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre on January
Mark Nolan/Getty Images

Former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki is looking to overcome a painful right shoulder injury ahead of the Aussie Open. After withdrawing from the Brisbane International, she lost in the second round in Sydney.

Prior to her defeat, Wozniacki talked about her injury, per SI.com:

Serving probably is...the worst. But for me, right now I just need some good physio, good treatment, and my head is still in Sydney. I’ve been working really well and hard in this off‑season with no problems. I wanted to start of the year well. That’s why I made the decision to withdraw from here, just because I didn’t feel like there was a need to make it worse before going into the [Australian] Open as well.

If the pain doesn't subside soon, the 23-year-old could be set for an early exit. After breaking through to the semifinals at Melbourne Park in 2011, Wozniacki has failed to get back, falling in the quarterfinals in 2012 and losing in the fourth round in 2013.

 

Laura Robson Nursing Wrist Injury

HOBART, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 06:  Laura Robson of Great Britain is treated by a trainer for a wrist injury in her first round match against Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium during day two of the Moorilla Hobart International at Domain Tennis Centre on January 6
Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

British teenage sensation Laura Robson reached the third round in her second go-around in the Aussie Open main draw in 2013. However, a wrist injury has her status for this year's Open up in the air.

The injury forced the 19-year-old to withdraw from the Hobart International on Jan. 6, per The Daily Mail's Mike Dickson, and leaves her with just a week to recover in time for first-round action in Melbourne. 

Although Robson has yet to announce her status for the upcoming major, there's no doubt that she'll be less than 100 percent if she plays. After all, wrist injuries are among the most troublesome to deal with for a tennis player who's constantly generating torque. 

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.   

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