Australian Open begins after Djokovic saga – Archyde

MELBOURNE: The Australian Open finally got underway on Monday (January 17) at Melbourne Park after a chaotic and controversial build-up dominated by the show saga that gobbled up the number one in the world Novak Djokovic.

Germany’s Tatjana Maria hit the first serve of the inaugural Grand Slam of the year at the Rod Laver Arena against Greek Maria Sakkari, 5th seed, in women’s singles.

Defending champion Naomi Osaka follows her on center court with 20-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal completing the afternoon action on an overcast and chilly day with crowds capped at 50 per cent due to the coronavirus.

World no.

The 34-year-old flew in from Australia on Sunday night, his dreams of becoming the first man to win 21 Majors, at least for now, give Nadal a chance to be first to reach the milestone instead.

With Djokovic absent, third seed Alexander Zverev was instead promoted to the Rod Laver Arena to conclude the day’s action with his clash with fellow German Daniel Altmaier.

The showdown of world number one Ashleigh Barty with qualifier Lesia Tsurenko opens the evening session.

Fifteenth seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine began a trial against Fiona Ferro of France at the neighboring main venue, Margaret Court Arena.

With nine-time Australian Open champion Djokovic absent, the men’s tournament is wide open, with Nadal, Zverev, US Open champion Daniil Medvedev and Greek world number four Stefanos Tsitsipas all in contention.

But there is no Roger Federer struggling with the Swiss’ big injury this year.

Barty is the clear favorite on the women’s side to win her home Slam for the first time but faces heavy pressure from an expectant crowd.

Osaka, who was just 13 after a lengthy layoff over mental health issues, will need the Australian to topple if she wants to score a title hat-trick in Melbourne.

Serena Williams is not in Melbourne for fitness reasons.


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