Serena hoping swagger isn't lost for good

For a couple of weeks anyway, the tennis tours have slowed down. With a few moments to digest a chaotic opening month, we dished out a few burning questions to our writers and analysts.

Fact or fiction: We should be concerned about Serena Williams

Brad Gilbert, ESPN analyst: Fiction. She is going to be 35 this season, but we know one thing: Don't ever underestimate a Williams. It's not like she's bowing out in the second or third round. I still think she's going to win another Slam this year.

Pam Shriver, ESPN analyst: Fact. Because of her age, because of four months off, and now because of back-to-back three-set losses down the stretch of Grand Slam events, this has changed her confidence level in final sets. It makes her a different player within herself, and I think other players will see that vulnerability as well.

Peter Bodo, ESPN.com: Fiction: I am about as worried about Serena Williams' future in tennis as I am about Leo DiCaprio finding a date for the Oscars. Sure, Williams lost to Angelique Kerber in the Australian Open singles final. But Williams got to that stage in commanding fashion, with neither significant physical stress nor the degree of drama we witnessed throughout 2015. Williams had a very similar experience when she played Samantha Stosur in the US Open final of 2011, and we saw what that led to: eight more Grand Slam titles . . . and counting.

Jim Caple, ESPN.com: Like a presidential candidate speech, mostly fiction. She is definitely getting older but showing no signs of needing to start dining at early-bird specials anytime soon. Apart from her upset loss to Kerber, Williams was in top form at the Australian Open. Expect her to have at least one more top season before age begins to catch up.

More concerned with prospects of Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer?

Gilbert: Until 10 days ago, I would definitely have said Nadal. But because Federer hasn't been hurt in his entire career other than minor setbacks with his back, all of a sudden to have meniscus surgery at 34, it has to be a shock to him. It'll be interesting to see how he can navigate this injury. He's not scheduled to play until Indian Wells in early March, but I think he would be better off pushing his return back to the clay season. Nadal just needs to get some confidence, which he could get this week playing in South America.

Shriver: Nadal, but only because we don't know much about Federer's surgery. I still think Rafa's problems are much more complex and involves many more aspects of his game -- physical, mental, emotional. We saw how much he struggled last year, and after a first-round exit in Australia, that belief is not back yet.

Bodo: Nadal. His problems are much deeper. Just one thing has stood between Federer and perhaps three or four more Grand Slam titles for a couple of years now. That's Novak Djokovic, and he's not going anywhere. That's just life. Nadal, now that's another story. It's always sad to see a guy losing his mojo for no apparent reason, and that's exactly what's happened to the "King of Clay." He, too, has a Djokovic problem (everyone has a Djokovic problem), but he also has a Fabio Fognini problem and a Fernando Verdasco problem. All kinds of problems.

Caple: Nadal, barely. While Federer played superbly in 2015 and had a good Aussie until meeting Djokovic in the semis, he is five years older than Nadal and also coming off knee surgery for a torn meniscus. Rafa is still just 29 but had a disappointing 2015, plus a first-round Australian exit, and he might have some confidence issues. Forced to bet? Fed wins more 2016 tournaments.

Fact or fiction: Angelique Kerber will win another Grand Slam

Gilbert: Fact. I would have said almost no chance, because she's 28. But she just won Australia, and because she just surprised the heck out of me once, I will lean toward her winning another one. But if she's going to, I think it will be this season.

Shriver: Fact, but only if Kerber decides to play well into her 30s. What concerns me is the pattern of women's tennis players. I'll mention three: Marion Bartoli, Flavia Pennetta and Li Na. They all decided really soon after, or directly after, that they were done. I don't think that's where Kerber is headed; she seems like she's in this game for the long haul.

Bodo: Fact. There's no reason Kerber won't win another major, especially if Serena begins to slow down. It took the newly crowned Australian Open champ a long time to develop the confidence and aggressive game to punch through to the elite level, but her talent is definitely there and she'll get a lot of motivation (as well as some pressure) from her German fan base.

Caple: Fact. Her Australian Open win lifted Kerber to No. 2 and also must have been a great boost to her confidence. And as she showed against Serena, she already has the forehand and movement.

More likely to break Grand Slam title drought in 2016, Maria Sharapova or Victoria Azarenka?

Gilbert: Azarenka, for sure. I was stunned she didn't win in Australia. It was all set up for her down the stretch. Credit to Kerber, but this was Azarenka's tourney to lose -- and she did. Azarenka was my pick to win it. The most important thing for her is not whether she has the game to win another, but whether she can get over losing early in Australia.

Shriver: If I had to pick someone, it would be Sharapova by 1 percent, but this one is as close as the Iowa caucuses. Her pattern of winning is 2004, '06, '08 and then two French Open titles in 2012 and '14. She's always had spacing between her wins, which makes you think she is about due this season. But her frequency of injuries makes her an old 28. Given the way Azarenka started the year, even though it ended earlier than she hoped in Australia, she showed she is again fit.

Bodo: Sharapova. She is a great competitor. Show her an opportunity and she'll reach right out and grab it. That helps explain how she compiled a career Grand Slam despite winning just five majors. Initially, Azarenka seemed to be a similar player but with a more reliable game. Yet after winning a pair of Australian Opens (2012 and 2013), she was hampered by a series of injuries, some personal struggles, and repeated, unsuccessful meetings with Serena (a problem Sharapova shares). Azarenka still hasn't regained her confidence, so the nod goes to Sharapova.

Caple: Azarenka. Aside from her loss to Kerber, her game seems to be back to where it was before the injuries started her slide. She was the favorite in many eyes to win Australia.

Fact or fiction: Novak Djokovic will pass Rafael Nadal on all-time Slam list

Gilbert: Fact, no question about it. I think the better question is whether Djoker will pass Federer. Djoker might not pass Nadal this season, but he's so far above the rest of the field these days that he's going to pile on to his total. Right now, Djokovic is only three majors behind Nadal and [Djokovic] has at least three more good years in front of him.

Shriver: Fact, yes. I definitely think Novak will win at least one French Open like Federer. Djokovic looks like he's on his way to becoming the greatest male hard-court player who has ever lived. So half the majors are on the surfaces he loves most. And with the help of Boris Becker, Djokovic looks like he can play better grass-court tennis in his late 20s than he did when he first won Wimbledon.

Bodo: It's a simple fact: Djokovic appears to be getting better and more dominant, and his tremendous recent success hasn't blunted his motivation at all. Therefore, it's hard to imagine he won't surpass Nadal, and perhaps even Federer, in the Grand Slam singles title count.

Caple: Fact. Djokovic is just three Slam titles behind Nadal and is clearly the best player in the game by a significant degree. He has reached the finals in the past five Slams and won four of them. He could tie Rafa this year.