14 – 27 January 2019
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The top 100 men and top 100 women will play at the Australian Open in January.
Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley today confirmed he is expecting a full contingent of players in Melbourne, following a year of comebacks, injuries and upsets.
“I’m delighted to announce that Serena Williams will return to the Australian Open in January,” Tiley said.
“We last saw Serena here in Melbourne as our champion, holding the Daphne Ackhurst Memorial Cup, in 2017. Of course what we didn’t know at the time was that she was already eight weeks pregnant with baby Olympia.
“Serena loves coming to Melbourne and I know she’s excited about returning in January with her family, it’s definitely a very special place for her. She’ll also be super-focused on winning here, and equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.
“Victoria Azarenka, a much-loved two-time champion here in Melbourne, will be back for the first time since 2016. Vika is also a new mum to toddler Leo and I’m looking forward to showing her, and Serena, our new crèche facilities – I’m sure they’ll be appreciated.
“Caroline Wozniacki had her breakthrough Grand Slam win here, and has had a blinder of a week in Beijing, winning the China Open. Caro was one of four different women to win a Grand Slam title this year, along with AO finalist Simona Halep, who won in Paris, and another former AO champion, Angie Kerber, who won at Wimbledon.
“Naomi Osaka, winner at the US Open, has really powered ahead of the pack this year, and to win her first major at just 20 years of age is an incredible achievement. Of course this is not necessarily a surprise to any of us who’ve been following her progress on the tour. Remember Naomi defeated Ash Barty here at the AO in January, so she’s had a great progression.
“We have many passionate Japanese fans here in Melbourne and I know she’ll receive a very warm welcome.
“Ash (Barty) has had an incredible year, she’s consistently maintained her spot in the top 20 and broke through to win a Grand Slam doubles title at the US Open.
“We were also delighted to announce Ash as our Indigenous Tennis Ambassador earlier this year, and she joined Evonne Goolagong in Darwin to announce Australia’s first Indigenous Tennis Carnival. She also visited communities in the Tiwi Islands, inspiring local kids and introducing them to tennis.
“Dasha Gavrilova has also been consistent this year, hovering around the top 30. She’s had a couple of big wins – last week she defeated former Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova which will be great for her confidence as she prepares for the Aussie summer.
“On the men’s side, Novak Djokovic will come into the Australian Open as a hot favourite and there have been many years when he’s seemed invincible here at Melbourne Park. He was the first to equal Roy Emerson’s record of six Australian Open singles titles, which Roger Federer also did this year.
“After coming back from injury this year Novak has won both Wimbledon and the US Open. I’ll be keen to see how he goes in Shanghai this week.
“Andy Murray is also on the comeback trail after a very challenging year. He’s ended his season now and is preparing for the Aussie summer, which he’ll start in Brisbane. With his incredible work ethic and competitive spirit it would be foolish to underestimate him. He has always done well here in Melbourne and he has a legion of passionate fans who’ll be waiting to cheer him on.
“Kei Nishikori will be back at the AO for the first time since 2016. He’s a three-time quarterfinalist here and has lots of local fans. It’s been a long road for Kei and I was delighted to see him do so well in New York, reaching the semis against Novak. It will be great to welcome him back.
“Another player you can never count out is former AO champ Stan Wawrinka. He started his return from injury here at the AO last year and he’s continuing to work his way back into form, and is building momentum.ON THE MEN’S SIDE, NOVAK DJOKOVIC WILL COME INTO THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN AS A HOT FAVOURITE.Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley.
“Rafa Nadal is currently doing rehab on his knee after withdrawing from the US Open. I’ve been in touch with him and he’s happy with how everything is progressing. Rafa is such an amazing champion I know everyone will be pleased to hear he’ll be returning in January.
“And of course we look forward to the return of our champion Roger Federer. After winning his 20th Grand Slam title here in January he can’t wait to return. He and his whole family love returning to Melbourne. I caught up with him recently at the Laver Cup and he’s also excited about seeing the new player areas.
“We have six Aussie men in the top 100, a bonus for local fans who love to come out and support the locals.
“This week Alex de Minaur has taken over the Australian No.1 men’s spot, and his fighting spirit has been on display all year. He’s scored some amazing and tenacious wins, and is the second youngest player in the top 100, having risen more than 200 spots in the rankings in the past year.
“John Millman’s incredible win over Roger Federer at the US Open inspired the nation. We’ve always known what a tremendous guy John is, and it was wonderful to see Australia embrace him and learn about his work ethic and courage, as well as meet his lovely family.
“Although he’s dipped in the rankings over the past few weeks, Nick Kyrgios continues to improve as he finds his feet on the year-round grind of the ATP Tour. He was a tremendous member of Team World during the Laver Cup and definitely draws inspiration from a team environment.
“Matt Ebden’s comeback from injury has been remarkable. His Wimbledon run to the third round was his best Grand Slam showing so far, and he’ll be keen to make his mark here in Melbourne.
“It was also good to see Bernard Tomic getting back on track during the Asia swing, winning his first ATP event for a number of years in Chengdu and returning to the top 100.
“And finally, it was inspirational to see Jason Kubler crack the top 100 for the first time, and win a round in New York before injuring his ankle. Again, Jason is one of those players who’s not a household name, but has worked incredibly hard for so many years and it was great to see him finally get some recognition. Jason is a former No.1 junior and at 16, after winning Junior Davis Cup for Australia, was being compared to Rafa Nadal. Surgery after surgery derailed his career and for a number of years he was only able to play on clay. It’s great to see him back, fit again, and I’m sure he’ll get a lot of support here in Melbourne.”