ATP

Australian Open 2020: Djokovic, Federer and Nadal on player entry list

All the big names in men’s and women’s tennis have, as expected, confirmed their Australian Open participation, but there were some interesting notes.

The player entry list for the 2020 edition of the Australian Open has been confirmed by tournament organisers, with all the top players committing to play as expected.

A total of 128 players will play in each of the men’s and women’s singles competitions at the event, the first major of the next decade, which begins on January 20 and runs until February 2.

Of that group, 104 will receive direct entry, a list of acceptances which has now been confirmed by the tournament.

Almost all of the players automatically eligible have committed for the tournament. One of the top exceptions is Victoria Azarenka, a two-time winner of the Melbourne event who the tournament confirmed withdrew before the deadline.

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Another interesting note was the return of Juan Martin del Potro in the men’s draw on a protected ranking. The former US Open champion has had a torrid time with injuries over recent years and has not played for six months since the Queen’s Club Championship, where he sustained a fractured kneecap in a match against emerging star Denis Shapovalov.

Vasek Pospisil and Mackenzie McDonald also make the main draw on protected rankings, as do Cedrik-Marcel Salvatore Caruso and Yen-Hsun Lu.

An additional eight spots will go to wildcard players in each of the men’s and women’s singles, with 16 further to emerge from the qualifying rounds to fill up the remaining spots. Qualifying takes place between January 8 and 11.

Djokovic to defend men’s title

The men’s singles will see Novak Djokovic defend his Australian Open title, with his triumph in 2019 being a record seventh at the event.

Fellow members of the big three Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will also be participating, along with the group of younger players who are bidding to end their dominance of the top tournaments.

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Stan Wawrinka is the last player outside of the big three to win a major (2016 US Open) and he is playing along with a host of challengers including Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and ATP Finals winner Stefanos Tsitsipas, many of whom will be hoping to build momentum by playing in the weeks leading up to the event.

Nadal has won two of the last three Slams and goes into the new year as world number one.

Andy Murray, if fit, will be reliant on a wildcard from organisers because he used his last protected ranking at the ATP Cup, per a Daily Telegraph report. The Briton is still expected to play but recently cancelled a planned training stint in Miami as he battles a groin problem.

In a release on the Australian Open website, tournament director Craig Tiley was thrilled that a clean bill of health among the top male and female players had led to such a strong entry list.

“We are delighted to welcome this extremely strong player field to Melbourne in what promises to be a once in a generation event,” said Tiley.

“The very best players are back, there are records up for grabs and it is very possible we will see a new champion crowned on both sides.”

Osaka returns as Australian Open champion

Naomi Osaka is defending champion in the women’s draw and returns to the event for the 2020 tournament as the world number three.

Ash Barty is on top of the rankings and gives Australia a realistic hope of a home player winning their Grand Slam. No Aussie man or woman has done so since 1978.

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US Open winner Bianca Andreescu and the player she beat in the final, Serena Williams, are poised to be involved.

Serena is seeking an eighth Australian Open and record-equalling 24th major overall, with Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep also playing.

Vera Zvonareva is back on a protected ranking along with CiCi Bellis, Kateryna Bondarenko, Katie Boulter and Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

Tiley added in the media release: “There are so many great storylines for AO 2020. Emerging players continue to break through, including our own world No.1 Ash Barty.

“Will it be the year for one of the young guns to stop Novak, Roger or Rafa? And can Serena win her 24th Grand Slam singles title?”

There is still over a month to go before the start of the Australian Open but anticipation is already building.

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As long as none of the big names suffer injury setbacks in their training or while playing the ATP and WTA tournaments leading up to the first Grand Slam of 2020, the list of competitors will remain a hugely impressive one.