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Australian Open Preview: Setting the Tone for Tennis for an Uncertain Year Ahead
Friday, 01/15/2021
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No matter what spin is put upon it by the organizers, the Australian Open will not herald the resumption of business as usual on the tennis professional tennis circuit. Indeed, the fact that it is the first Australian Open in over 100 years to begin in February tells you that this tournament is in uncharted territory. 

 

Nevertheless, a successful tournament – and there is little reason to think it won’t be – could set the tone for 2021 in tennis. Here’s An Overview:

 

Dates for the 2021 Australian Open

Moving from its traditional January slot, the Australian Open will start on February 8th, with the Men’s Final closing the tournament on Sunday, February 21st. The event will stay at its traditional Melbourne Park home.

 

Qualifying 

An important detail for players outside the world’s elite, qualifying for the event will take place “offshore” in Dubai in January. Players will arrive in Australia from January 15th, where they will be asked to quarantine for up to 14 days. The organizers of the Australian Open have spoken about increased prize money for qualifying and early rounds, with more details to be released in the coming weeks.

 

Draws and Tickets

Tickets are on sale for the event from December 23rd. Further details will be forthcoming on the draws for the event. But the usual system of 16 qualifying places and eight wildcard entries joining the world’s top 100 will stand for the event. Some warm-up events will take place in Australia, including two ATP 250 tournaments and the ATP Cup, to allow players to get match fit for the Australian Open.

 

The News

The Australian Open wouldn’t feel right without Roger Federer, and the Swiss legend has not been in action for almost a year now. In fact, his last Grand Slam appearance came in the Australian Open last year, where he was knocked out in the semis by eventual winner Novak Djokovic. Federer was in a race to get fit for the tournament after a knee injury ruled him out for most of 2020, but he recently announced that he would withdraw from Australia. Nevertheless, Federer plans to mount a comeback at some point in 2021.

  

Elsewhere, the Aussie fans will be hopeful of seeing a first home-grown winner of the tournament since the 1970s. Ash Barty, who is 8/1 with MansionBet tennis betting, making her the second-favorite behind Naomi Osaka, will be hoping to become the first winner of the women’s event since Chris O’Neill in 1978. Barty is the current world number one, so there is every reason to believe she can triumph in her home country. Nick Kyrgios (28/1) is arguably the best hope for an Aussie winner in the men’s tournament. 

 

Andy Murray has always been a popular figure Down Under, and the Brit has shown some promising signs of his fitness of late. If you remember, it was at the 2019 Australian Open where an emotional Murray spoke of his hip injury that would lead to his retirement. He has tried to mount a comeback, showing at the US Open, where he won a pulsating five-set match against Yoshihito Nishioka, that he is still capable of thrilling fans. That was a rare win for Murray however, and, like Federer, a performance in Australia might tell us a lot about his future plans. 

Serena Williams will also be heading to Melbourne, and the American will have her sights set on Grand Slam number 24. 2020 wasn’t a great year for Williams, although she did reach the semis of the US Open in September. While the question of retirement will also hang over Williams in 2021 too, few would rule her out of.


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