8 February - 21 February 2021

Australian Open

Melbourne Park, Australia

Australian Open 2021: Preview

  • 05/02/2021

  • Australian Open

The five words that get every tennis fan’s heart racing – Grand Slam tennis is back.

The tournament has already seen a number of firsts in 2021 – the first February start, the first qualifiers held in another country, and the first Melbourne Summer Series warm-up events – and it hasn’t even started yet.

Here’s a preview of what you can expect at the Australian Open 2021.

Men’s singles

When you think of the Australian Open and its iconic Rod Laver Arena, only one man springs to mind – Novak Djokovic. The World No.1 is a record eight-time champion in Melbourne and has shown no sign in slowing down in recent years. Last year he beat Austrian star Dominic Thiem in an epic five-set final to lift the title and is the obvious tournament favourite.

Eager to go one further in 2021, World No.3 Thiem is tipped by many as the main man to prevent the Serbian from winning his third title in a row. The 2020 US Open champion is playing some of the best tennis on tour right now and his powerful, attacking style of play has proven to be formidable.

Hot on their heels is 20-time Grand Slam champion and number two seed Rafael Nadal. Despite suffering from a minor back issue, the Spaniard will be raring to win his first title at the Australian Open since 2009. 

Nitto ATP Finals champion Daniil Medvedev is another strong contender in the men’s draw and comes into the competition as the number four seed. However, on his side of the draw is fellow Russian star Andrey Rublev, who made a big name for himself as one of the stand out players of 2020 and will be an underdog to go far this year.

Women’s singles

Defending champion Sofia Kenin made a name for herself at last year’s event after beating Garbiñe Muguruza in the final. Kenin went on to be named WTA Player of the Year after also reaching the final at Roland Garros, where she lost to Iga Świątek.

The biggest question mark over the women’s draw surrounds the return of home favourite Ashleigh Barty, who will play her first Grand Slam for 11 months. The current World No.1 will face Danka Kovinic in the opening round as she looks to reignite her brilliant form from 2019.

Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams are two of the most talked about names in tennis but come into the event in strong veins of form. Osaka picked up her second US Open title back in September and so far this year has looked impressive, including a recent comeback win against Britain’s Katie Boulter. Williams on the other hand has played well in her warm-up matches but is struggling with a shoulder injury which forced her to pull out of her Yarra Valley Classic semi-final clash with Barty.

Meanwhile, Canada’s Bianca Andreescu makes a long anticipated return to the tour and World No.2 Simona Halep is out to be crowned Australian Open champion for the first time.

The Brits

Singles

The headline clash of the first round for British tennis fans is of course, number 30 seed Dan Evans up against Cam Norrie. The two have been regular practice partners out in Melbourne but must now face each other to stay in the competition. In their most recent clash at the Battle of the Brits Premier League of Tennis in December, Norrie came out on top, but at a Grand Slam anything can happen.

British No.1 Johanna Konta - who reached the semi-finals in Melbourne in 2016will face Egyptian qualifier Mayar Sherif in her opening tie. If Konta were to win she would face another qualifier in the second round before a potential match up with World No.24 Jenifer Brady in the third round.

Heather Watson faces a tough opening clash against Kristyna Pliskova, but will take confidence from the fact that she beat the Czech star in Melbourne only a year ago.

Boulter has been in brilliant form over the past week and is up against Daria Kasatkina in round one – the winner of which could face seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka in the next round.

Playing in her first Grand Slam and WTA Tour event, fans will be excited to see 20-year-old Fran Jones in action at the Australian Open this year. Jones faces World No.60 Shelby Rogers in her first match.

Doubles

Britiain's male doubles stars feature prominently in the Australian Open line-up for 2021 – none more so than reigning champion Joe Salisbury and his partner Rajeev Ram. After a fantastic 2020 campaign that saw the pair reach No.2 in the world, Salisbury and Ram are one of the favourites going into this year’s event.

Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares - who triumphed in Australia in 2016 - will once again reunite for this season. The duo last played together back in 2019, before Murray paired up with fellow Brit Neal Skupski. With Murray and Soares back together, they’ll feel confident that they can have a good run in the tournament.

Speaking of reunions, Neal and Ken Skupski are back together again, as the brothers from Liverpool aim for a strong performance in Melbourne.

Dom Inglot and Luke Bambridge will join together for this year’s opening Grand Slam, while Jonny O’Mara teams up with New Zealand's Artem Sitak 

Singles stars Norrie and Evans will also compete in the doubles - Norrie pairs up with Marcos Giron, while Evans will play with Moldovan, Radu Albot.

Wheelchair

Alfie Hewett, Gordon Reid, Andy Lapthorne and Lucy Shuker fly the flag in the Australian Open men’s, women’s and quad wheelchair events this year.

Having won his first career Grand Slam singles title in Australia in 2016, Reid also lifted the men’s doubles title for the first time in 2017 before partnering with Hewett. The British pair claimed their first Australian Open title together last year.

Hewett makes his fifth Australian Open appearance, having won his first singles match at Melbourne Park last year to reach the men’s singles semis.

Of the British quartet, Lapthorne has won the most titles in Melbourne, having lifted a total of five quad doubles titles, the first of those titles coming on his Australian Open debut back in 2011.

Shuker is also a former two-time Australian Open women’s doubles finalist, partnering Australia’s Dainela di Toro in 2010 and Dutch star Marjolein Buis in 2013. She has progressed to the singles semi-finals twice before.

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