Australian Open: Serena Williams seeks 24th Grand Slam; Djokovic, Federer & Nadal head men’s field

Serena Williams lifted the Australian Inaugurate trophy in 2017 – she has no longer received one more Mighty Slam title since
2020 Australian Inaugurate
Venue:Melbourne ParkDates:20 January to 2 February
Protection:Listen on BBC Radio 5 Are dwelling Sports Extra and online; Are dwelling textual teach on selected suits on the BBC Sport websites and app.

Serena Williams is the firm approved to prefer the Australian Inaugurate as she again bids for a sage-equalling twenty fourth Mighty Slam singles title.

The 38-Twelve months-customary American is aiming to match the sage plot in 1973 by australia’s Margaret Court, who will be recognised at the match on the Fiftieth anniversary of her calendar Mighty Slam.

Aged guard Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are restful expected to be the males to beat in Melbourne, while Britain’s worn world number one Andy Murray is missing thanks to a pelvic harm.

The principle Mighty Slam of the 2020 season is plot to hurry ahead as planned, despite the backdrop of raging bushfires that receive devastated aspects of australia.

Right here is every thing you will must know.

Why is no longer all the time Murray taking half in?

Andy Murray, a five-time Australian Inaugurate runner-up, picked up the pelvic peril at November’s Davis Cup finals

For the eighth time in the previous 10 Mighty Slams, three-time critical champion Andy Murray is unavailable to lead British hopes.

Murray, 32, hoped to receive a poignant return to Melbourne – where he tearfully admitted last Januaryhe thought his occupation grow to be coming to an discontinuethanks to chronic hip effort.

Since then, the Scot has had “lifestyles-changing” hip surgical intention, returned to competitive circulate and received ATP Tour titles in singles and doubles events.

Now he must wait a diminutive bit longer to come wait on to Mighty Slam singles competition after deciding on up a pelvic harm while taking half in for Enormous Britain at November’s Davis Cup finals.

“Sadly I’ve had a setback and as a precaution must work by means of that sooner than competing,” said the worn world number one, who’s planning to be wait on in circulate in February.

“I’ve labored so onerous to receive myself right into a peril where I will play at the discontinue diploma and I’m gutted I’m no longer going to be in a position to play.”

Can any of the replacement Britons mount a peril?

Britain’s excellent hope of successful a critical Australian Inaugurate singles title since Virginia Wade did so in 1972 looks to be Johanna Konta – if she isn’t any longer hampered by a protracted-time frame knee peril.

Konta, ranked thirteenth on this planet, reached a minimal of the quarter-finals in three of the four Mighty Slams last Twelve months.

Though the Australian Inaugurate grow to be the excellent critical where she did no longer compete in the last eight, the 28-Twelve months-customary does receive outdated success in Melbourne, having reached the 2016 semi-finals.

The knee peril has disrupted the British number one’s plan-up, nonetheless, ruling her out of this week’s Adelaide Global and limiting her to excellent one match since September’s US Inaugurate.

Joining Konta in the females’s draw will be Katie Boulter, who’s the usage of her stable ranking of 85 to play after an harm-hit 2019 supposed she dropped to 317th.

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British number two Heather Watson is ranked 101 on this planet, and grow to be appropriate outdoors the initial in the reduction of for articulate entry, however has moved into the critical draw routinely following several withdrawals by higher-ranked gamers.

Harriet Move and Samantha Murray Sharan are looking out for to affix them by coming by means of the qualifying rounds.

In Murray’s absence, British hopes in the males’s singles are in the fingers of Thirtieth seed Dan Evans, Kyle Edmund and Cameron Norrie.

Evans, 29, is the nation’s main male participant after a absolute most reasonable 2019 by which he climbed wait on into the world’s high 50 by getting to his first ATP Tour-diploma final and taking half in in the critical draws of all four Mighty Slams in the the same calendar Twelve months for the foremost time.

Now, having reached a occupation-excessive ranking of 33 on Monday, he goes right into a Mighty Slam for the foremost time as Britain’s main male participant and a seed.

Edmund, 25, is hoping a brand unusual coach in Franco Davin, who notably helped his fellow Argentine Juan Martin del Potro prefer the 2009 US Inaugurate, can support him replicate the variety that took him to the Australian Inaugurate semi-finals in 2018.

The Yorkshireman slid down the rankings at some stage in a 2019 where he suffered for variety and smartly being sooner than ending the Twelve months on a excessive by being Britain’s standout participant of their speed to the Davis Cup semi-finals.

In the males’s doubles, Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski will be looking out for to plan on the promise they confirmed of their unusual partnership last Twelve months, after they reached the US Inaugurate semi-finals.

Unique decade, same ‘Noteworthy Three’

It’ll fair be a brand unusual decade – however appropriate because it grow to be at some stage in the 2010s, and the latter half of the 2000s, the the same three males are broadly regarded as the critical contenders to prefer the foremost Mighty Slam of 2020.

Defending champion Djokovic, world number one Nadal and 20-time Mighty Slam winner Federer remain the gamers to beat, having received the previous 12 critical titles between them.

Djokovic is aiming for a sage-extending eighth males’s singles title in Melbourne and confirmed appropriate why he is so sophisticated to beat on the Australian onerous courts, havingled Serbia to glory in the inaugural ATP Cup.

The 32-Twelve months-customary, who’s aiming for a 17th Mighty Slam title to halt on Federer and 19-time critical champion Nadal, did no longer fall a plot in his six singles suits, alongside with at some stage in one more dominant prefer over the Spaniard in Sunday’s final in Sydney.

Nadal, 33, grow to be outplayed by Djokovic in last Twelve months’s Australian Inaugurate final and continues to fight against the Serb, who has received their previous nine encounters – and 19 sets – on onerous courts.

As the discontinue two seeds, they are projected to fulfill in the final on 2 February, although gamers corresponding to Swiss gargantuan Federer, Russia’s Daniil Medvedev and Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas receive the aptitude to stay them.

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It remains to be seen whether Federer, 38, grow to be wise to skip the ATP Cup, a call intended to retain his physique for Melbourne, however one who leaves him instant of court docket time going into the match.

Fourth seed Medvedev, 23, pushed Nadal in September’s US Inaugurate final sooner than dropping an narrative five-plot match and, given his solid onerous-court docket sage over the previous Twelve months, it appears a matter of time sooner than he turns right into a serious winner.

The same can even be said for 21-Twelve months-customary Tsitsipas, who confirmed he can beat the excellent by turning into the ATP Finals champion in November and is taking a detect to a minimal of match his speed to last Twelve months’s semi-finals in a metropolis where there’s a gargantuan Greek community spurring him on.

Can ‘relieved’ Serena at last match Court’s sage?

Williams has no longer received a Mighty Slam title for the reason that 2017 Australian Inaugurate, when she grow to be eight weeks pregnant.

Since strolling back from maternity hurry away in March 2018, she has reached four Mighty Slam finals – two at Wimbledon and two at the US Inaugurate – dropping all of them.

However she goes into this match as the clear approved, having rediscovered easy programs to prefer a final.

Williams claimed the Auckland Global on Sunday, beating fellow American Jessica Pegula in the final, to prefer her first trophy in nearly three years.

“It is been a truly very long time; I deem you might want to per chance witness the leisure on my face,” she said.

Williams’ drought has helped open up the females’s game; the previous 11 Mighty Slams receive produced nine totally different winners, over a length that has seen seven gamers handle the world number one ranking.

Youthful gamers receive grasped their probability over the previous three years, with 22-Twelve months-customary Eastern Naomi Osaka and 19-Twelve months-customary Canadian Bianca Andreescu both landing their first majors by beating Williams in Unique York, while the extra experienced Caroline Wozniacki, of Denmark, and Simona Halep, of Romania, at last landed elusive Mighty Slam titles.

Osaka, the defending champion in Melbourne, is anticipated to mount one more title tilt on a floor that yielded a 14-match successful mosey sooner than she lost to Czech Karolina Pliskova in the Brisbane Global semi-finals on Saturday.

Andreescu will no longer be taking half in in Melbourne, having pulled out with a knee harm sustained at the season-ending WTA Finals in October.

World number one Ashleigh Barty is aiming to grow to be the foremost Australian lady to prefer at Melbourne Park in 42 years, while 2nd seed Pliskova, having received the Brisbane title for the third successive Twelve months, is aiming display scandalous of us who doubt she has the mindset to whisper a Mighty Slam title.

In the period in-between, there’ll be an emotional farewell for 2018 champion Wozniacki, 29,who will retire after the match.

Has the match been plagued by the bushfires?

Bushfires in the articulate of Victoria receive affected the air quality in Melbourne

Bushfires across australia receive killed a minimal of 28 of us and an estimated half of a thousand million animals since September, with extra than 10.3m hectares of land destroyed and air quality in some areas reaching uncertain levels at rather a range of ingredients.

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Australian Inaugurate qualifying grow to be delayed by an hour on Tuesday and discover grow to be swiftly suspended thanks to the air quality, while Slovenian participant Dalila Jakupovic retired from her qualifier, pronouncingshe grow to be “essentially scared” she grow to be going to crumplethanks to the “unhealthy” air.

Play grow to be then delayed by three hours on Wednesday thanks to the air quality sooner thanbeing cancelled for the daythanks to rain.

Tournament organisers said last week that suits might well be suspended after Melbourne’s air quality reached “very unhealthy” levels.

On the replacement hand, they were also confident the matchwould no longer be disrupted by the disaster.

“We develop no longer are waiting for any delays and we receive utilized extra measures to be clear that the Australian Inaugurate will be in a position to speed as scheduled,” match director Craig Tiley said.

“As repeatedly, the smartly being and security of our gamers, alongside with our crew and our followers, is a precedence, and we receive dedicated gargantuan extra resources to evaluation, monitoring and logistics to be clear this at some stage in the match.”

Court’s milestone being ‘recognised’ quite than ‘renowned’

Whereas Williams seeks to match Court’s Mighty Slam singles sage, the 77-Twelve months-customary Australian will be marking regarded as one of her other milestones – the Fiftieth anniversary of her 1970 sweep of all four of the majors.

Court’s opposition to same-s*x marriage and her ogle that transgender children are the work of “the satan” receive made her a controversial figure and Tennis australia has said it plans to “recognise” her as a champion quite than “receive an even time” her as a hero.

The governing physique has to this level been imprecise on the facts of what it is planning for Court, who’s now a Christian pastor.

Mighty Slam winners Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King are among of us who receive known as for the Margaret Court Arena at Melbourne Park to be re-named thanks to her views and the peril might well come up again with the Australian invited to participate in a “indispensable programme of events”.

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