From former Grand Slam champions to some of the game’s future stars, the ranks of the unseeded at the Australian Open this year are full of players that have the potential to go far in the tournament. Here’s a look at five of the most dangerous floaters on both tours at the first Grand Slam of the season. (All photos: Getty Images)

1

Nick Kyrgios

One day, we’ll all marvel at the fact that Kyrgios played dozens of main draws at the majors before winning one. Will the shift in the conversation start after the Australian Open this year? Whenever he enters a hard-court event, it’s hard not to count him among the contenders. He’s in a section of the draw with last year’s runner-up, Dominic Thiem, whom he’s only faced once: back in 2015 on clay in Nice, where he retired midway through the first set. Should they play and Kyrgios win, he could be on his way to achieving Grand Slam glory.

The Baseline Top 5:
Australian Open's
dangerous floaters

The Baseline Top 5: Australian Open's dangerous floaters

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2

Jannik Sinner

The Baseline Top 5:
Australian Open's
dangerous floaters

The Baseline Top 5: Australian Open's dangerous floaters

Getty Images

Dating back to last year, Denis Shapovalov, the 11th seed, has dropped six matches in a row. And now, in Melbourne, he has to face one of the hottest players on the planet in Sinner. Leading up to the Australian Open, the 19-year-old Italian made some history with his victory at one of the warm-up events: He became the youngest player since Novak Djokovic in 2006 with two career singles titles to his credit. If his legs are fresh enough, he can cause trouble for Shapovalov and other seeds down the road.

3

Jelena Ostapenko

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The Baseline Top 5:
Australian Open's
dangerous floaters

The Baseline Top 5: Australian Open's dangerous floaters

Getty Images

At the end of 2019, when Ostapenko reached the final of a tournament and won another in her last two events, it appeared the Latvian was reclaiming her status as a Grand Slam contender in 2020. After punching a major hole in the draw in Paris by defeating the second seed Karolina Pliskova in the second round, the 2017 Roland Garros champ was unable to take advantage of the spot she created as she lost her next match. Though she hasn’t had much success in Melbourne in the past, she’s in a position where she could do some damage: first against the 25th seed Karolina Muchova in the opening round, then potentially against Pliskova in the third.

4

Reilly Opelka

The Baseline Top 5:
Australian Open's
dangerous floaters

The Baseline Top 5: Australian Open's dangerous floaters

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Of the current crop of young American men, does Opelka represent the best chance to win a major? The two-time ATP titlist has only claimed one match in Melbourne in his career, but his game is geared toward success on hard courts. He could square off against his good friend, 27th-seeded Taylor Fritz, in the second round, with the ultimate test coming afterward against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, whom he’s never faced.

5

Venus Williams

The Baseline Top 5:
Australian Open's
dangerous floaters

The Baseline Top 5: Australian Open's dangerous floaters

Getty Images

The 40-year-old future Hall of Famer got in some solid court time this past week at her warm-up tournament and should be good to go for Melbourne. Williams faces fellow veteran Kirsten Flipkens first up and if she gets past that, could have a chance to exact a measure of revenge against the No. 30 seed, Qiang Wang, who upset her sister last year in Melbourne. The expected third-round opponent would be Bianca Andreescu, who has all kinds of questions surrounding her, given her lack of play. It could all add up to an intriguing run for the two-time Australian Open finalist.