Australian Open: Five things to watch
The Australian Open is set to go ahead from Monday, despite the detection of a positive Covid-19 case in a hotel facility, and the rescheduled draw was made in the early hours of Friday morning UK time. However, Craig Tiley – Tennis Australia’s chief executive – is confident that the show will go on ahead of Monday’s start date. He said: “We’re absolutely confident the Australian Open will go ahead. We will be starting on Monday and we have no intention of changing times.”
Defending champion Novak Djokovic and co have now learned their fate as the Serbian bids to defend his title following his controversial letter, in which he criticised the quarantine restrictions tennis players were faced with upon arrival in Australia.
Djokovic’s campaign gets underway against Frenchman Jeremy Chardy as he looks to get off to the best possible start next week.
The world No 1 could then face the likes of Taylor Fritz, Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic, Gael Monfils and Alexander Zverev on his way to the semi-final.
He will then be looking to maintain his faultless record beyond the quarter-finals and Dominic Thiem stands in his way before the final.
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Last year’s finalist will be plotting his revenge on Djokovic and he leads a favourable second-quarter alongside Diego Schwartzman, Grigor Dimitrov, Pablo Carreno Busta, Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime.
But, the unseeded Nick Kyrgios could potentially be on course to face Thiem in the third-round, permitting they both reach the last 32.
The Aussie will open his Melbourne Park campaign against Frederico Ferreira Silva.
Russian duo Andrey Rublev and Daniil Medvedev arrive Down Under in fine form and could be the ones to watch in the third quarter, which also contains Spanish talent Roberto Bautista Agut.
Rafael Nadal will take on Laslo Djere in his opener and could go on to face players such as Stefano Tsitsipas, Karen Khachanov, Matteo Berrettini and Alex de Minaur on his way to the semi-final.
Dan Evans will also meet compatriot Cameron Norrie in an all-British match-up.
The draw was set to take place on Thursday before it was put back due to the ongoing battle against COVID on site.
A 26-year-old man who was working at one of the hotels containing players and staff tested positive on Wednesday, meaning up to 500 players were forced into immediate isolation.
Those who were potential affected were forced to undergo re-testing yesterday morning.
All play in Thursday’s warm-up tournaments was therefore postponed as a precaution.
Tiley has now added that the tournament organisers are now playing catch up ahead of Monday’s start date but the show will go on.
“We know that we have a period now where we have to work with those 507 players and their staff,” Tiley said. “The probability is very low that there’ll be an issue though.
“We expect them all to test negative. The plan is to continue to play [in the lead-up events] tomorrow as planned.
“If we have to go through this again, we’ll go through this again. We have thee and a half weeks of tennis to play and we’ll go an as scheduled.”
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