Over the last three years there have been eight first-time women’s Grand Slam winners.

Jelena Ostapenko, Sloane Stephens, Caroline Wozniacki, Naomi Osaka, Ashleigh Barty, Bianca Andreescu, Sofia Kenin and Iga Swiatek have all picked up the first majors of their careers.

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So who could be next on the list in 2021?

Karolina Pliskova

Pliskova is the most decorated player on the WTA Tour without a Grand Slam title to her name.

She is a former world No 1, has been in the top 10 for over 200 consecutive weeks and has won 16 WTA titles, but a major win has eluded her.

She reached the final of the US Open in 2016 – losing to Angelique Kerber – and has made two further semi-finals, but otherwise has largely failed to find her best tennis at Grand Slams.

Could this be the year? Her new coach Sascha Bajin, who worked with Naomi Osaka when she won the US Open for the first time, is hoping to help her make the breakthrough.

"I don't think it's a secret: If you've won every other title on the tour and you've beaten all of the players before, it must be some kind of mental barrier that is keeping you from playing your best tennis in the Grand Slam tournaments."

Aryna Sabalenka

Sabalenka is the form player on the WTA Tour right now.

She is on a 15-match winning run after starting the year with victory in the Abu Dhabi Open and should be among the favourites to win the Australian Open.

Aryna Sabalenka is on a 15-match winning run

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However, she hasn’t enjoyed much success in Melbourne so far, with her best effort a third-round exit either side of two losses in the first round. She’s also only once made it to the fourth round of a Grand Slam.

Her game has improved though, with more skill and thoughtfulness added to her power, and she will certainly be one to watch in 2021.

Elina Svitolina

Svitolina has a similar resume to Pliskova: plenty of WTA titles but not much success at Grand Slams.

She has won 15 times on the WTA Tour but has only twice made the semi-finals of majors, both in 2019. In her last 10 Grand Slam appearances she has lost in the fourth round or earlier on five occasions.

The 26-year-old hired a sports psychologist over the off-season to try and help her take the next step - and keep her balanced.

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“I don’t think that, just because I hired a sports psychologist, that I’m suddenly going to win every single match and never get angry on the court again. This will come, and I will have to deal with that. The main goal was trying to find better ways to deal with the stuff that goes on around me," she said.

“You can’t win every single point or every single match in tennis. It’s very rare when you’re only losing a few matches a year, so I have to deal with that. My goal is to not get too high or low.”

Belinda Bencic

Last year was not a great season for Bencic as she struggled with injury and wasn’t able to string any consistent results together. She also slipped out of the top 10 in the world having been at a career-high No 4 in February.

But, still only 23, Bencic, who made the quarter-finals of the US Open as a 17-year-old in 2014 but then underwent wrist surgery in 2017, has plenty of time ahead of her.

Will Belinda Bencic make the breakthrough at a Grand Slam?

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If she can get back up to full fitness expect her to climb into the top 10 again and start challenging for titles.

Her best performance at a Grand Slam was reaching the semi-finals in New York in 2019 while she only played the Australian Open last year.

Maria Sakkari

Sakkari started the year in promising fashion with wins over Grand Slam champions Sofia Kenin and Garbine Mugurza in Abu Dhabi. She enjoyed her best performances at the majors in 2020 as she reached the fourth rounds of the Australian Open and US Open along with the third round of the French Open.

It’s a big step up for Sakkari to win a Grand Slam but she has shown she can challenge the best in the world. She beat Svitolina towards the back of last year and came close to beating Serena Williams at the US Open, having beaten her at the Western & Southern Open a couple of weeks earlier.

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