| By Steven Kaplan

It's time to pick up the remote and switch from the Travel Channel to the Tennis Channel to dream of basking in hot weather again. Sorry, not sorry but I have little sympathy for those experiencing another "heat alert" in Sydney.
It's better than a polar vortex.

I'm looking forward to sizzling tennis this year since both the men's and women's draw could be wide open.

On the men's side, the "Big Three" of  Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and  Rafael Nadal now looks like a "Big Six" with Andy Murray on the mend, and Stan Warrinka (the defending champion) and Marin Cilic joining the Grand Slam club in 2014.

U.S. Open finalist  and U.S.-trained  Kei Nishikori is ranked fifth in the world, world number eight Milos Raonic is playing well, and world number 11 Grigor Dimitrov is on the rise. The Round of 16 is going to be exciting.

The women's side could be wide open also if Serena Williams is not in top form. Maria Sharapova looks good, as does Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova. Ana Ivanovic is back in top form at number five in the world, Agnieszka Radwanska is hitting the fuzz off the ball at sixth in the world, and Eugenie Bouchard and Caroline Wozniacki could be ready for a slam title. Former titlist Victoria Azarenka is ranked at 41st in the world, and could be a terrible draw for one of the top seeds early on if she is healthy again.

Things are going to heat up in Australia soon.

Steven Kaplan

Steve Kaplan is the owner and managing director of Bethpage Park Tennis Center, as well as director emeritus of Lacoste Academy for New York City Parks Foundation, and executive director and founder of Serve &Return Inc. Steve has coached more than 1,100 nationally- ranked junior players, 16 New York State high school champions, two NCAA Division 1 Singles Champions, and numerous highly-ranked touring professionals. Many of the students Steve has closely mentored have gone to achieve great success as prominent members of the New York financial community, and in other prestigious professions. In 2017, Steve was awarded the Hy Zausner Lifetime Achievement Award by the USTA. He may be reached by e-mail at StevenJKaplan@aol.com.