Five reasons to be excited for the 2024 Australian Open
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The draw has been announced, the stage is set, and the countdown is on. The first Grand Slam of the 2024 season is just around the corner and we’re gearing up for what is expected to be an incredible two weeks of world class tennis at the Australian Open.
Not quite feeling the same amount of buzz yet? We’ve got you covered – here are five reasons why you should be excited for the 2024 Australian Open.
Multiple WTA stars making Grand Slam returns
A host of WTA stars are set to make their return to Grand Slam action, following a period of time away from the game.
2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu will make her first Grand Slam appearance since last January after being sidelined for eight months due to injury. The 21-year-old made an impressive start to life back on tour – reaching the second round in Auckland where she pushed Elina Svitolina to her limits in a three-set battle. The Brit has been awarded a spot in the main draw having used a protected ranking of No.103 and will be eager to continue her strong progress on the court.
Meanwhile, two-time Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka is heading to Melbourne Park to contest her first Grand Slam since the US Open in 2022. The 26-year-old gave birth to her first child in 2023 and made her comeback to the sport at the Brisbane International where she reached the second round.
Also returning for the first time since Wimbledon 2022 after becoming a mother is former world No.1 Angelique Kerber. The three-time Grand Slam champion has already made an impact on her return to tennis after being a part the German United Cup team who rose to victory to defeat Australia in the final at the beginning of the month.
Amanda Anisimova, Ajla Tomljanovic and Jennifer Brady will also make their returns to Grand Slam action.
Jack Draper hitting peak form at the perfect time
2023 brought many unwelcomed injuries for Britain’s Jack Draper, forcing the 22-year-old to miss a fair share of tournaments, including the entire grass court season. However, the British No.4 has grown from strength-to-strength since August – going on to reach the round of 16 at a major tournament for the first time at the US Open, clinching a win against Thanasi Kokinakkis on his Davis Cup debut at the Group Stages in Manchester and reaching his first ATP tour-level final in Sofia.
Draper has already asserted his presence in the 2024 season, having defeated Miomir Kecmanovic, world No.14 Tommy Paul and Alexander Bublik en route to the final in Adelaide where he’s set to face Jiri Lehecka on Saturday 13 January – placing him in perfect stead to rock the boat in Melbourne, where he’s set to battle Marcos Giron in the opening round.
The young guns preparing to battle Djokovic for his crown
No other male tennis player in the sports history has had as much success at the Australian Open than Novak Djokovic. Having lifted the trophy 10 times over the last 16 years, it’s no surprise that the world No.1 is the favourite coming into the tournament but the next generation of young talent are determined to try and put an end to his reign down under.
Perhaps the most likely player to stop Djokovic is Carlos Alcaraz, who has proven to be the biggest threat to the Serbian’s chances of lifting an 11th title at Melbourne Park. Alcaraz’s historic run to glory in SW19 last summer was one of the highlights of the 2023 season, with his victory over Djokovic in a five-set thriller being hailed as one of the matches of the year. Having missed last year’s tournament due to injury, can Alcaraz steal Djokovic’s crown down under too?
Meanwhile, Jannik Sinner capped off a sensational second half of the season by clinching four titles, leading Italy to Davis Cup victory and finishing runner-up to Djokovic at the Nitto ATP Finals. With a newfound confidence and the Italian looking to be approaching his most promising year yet, Sinner could be set to clinch his maiden Slam title in the coming weeks.
Similarly, Denmark’s Holger Rune is another youngster with a history of getting the better of the 24-time Grand Slam champion, who has made a fast start to their 2024 season. The world No.8 reached the final at the ATP 250 event in Brisbane where he finished runner-up to Grigor Dimitrov and will undoubtedly rise to the occasion on the big stage in Melbourne.
Intense rivalries brewing within the women’s draw
It could be argued that there’s no clear-cut favourite to lift the women’s title at Melbourne Park this year, with such a strong line-up of WTA players competing at the highest level. While 2023 champion Aryna Sabalenka will be looking to defend her title down under, there’s a cluster of stars that are snapping at her heels in the hopes of getting their hands around the coveted trophy.
World No.1 Iga Swiatek – a four-time major champion – is undefeated in the singles game since September 2023 and arrives at the tournament seeking her first Australian Open trophy. January saw the 22-year-old guide Poland to the runners-up spot at the United Cup, where she won all five of her singles rubbers and will be eager to carry that momentum with her to Melbourne.
Meanwhile, Elena Rybakina and Coco Gauff have already made winning starts to the new season having both picked up silverware in Brisbane and Auckland respectively. Gauff secured up her first Grand Slam title at the US Open back in September, after defeating Sabalenka in three sets, while Rybakina will be looking to go one step further this year after falling just short against the reigning champion in last year’s final.
Alfie Hewett prepares to defend wheelchair singles title for the first time
The 2023 Australian Open saw British wheelchair tennis star Alfie Hewett realise his dream of lifting the men’s singles trophy. The 26-year-old made it third time lucky, defeating Japan’s Tokito Oda in straight sets.
In a recent interview with Sky Sports, Hewett hailed lifting the title in Melbourne as the highlight of his year, adding, “It was an accolade that I hadn’t yet achieved so I desperately wanted it this year. For me that’s a standout. I’ve put a lot of that down to working on my mentality and learning a lot about myself.”
The Brit has already made a fast start to the new season, having eased to the title at the Victoria Wheelchair Open without dropping a set where he clocked wins over the likes of Joachim Gerard and Martin de la Puente. The real question is, just how many trophies will Hewett etch his name onto this year?