The first Grand Slam of the 2018 tennis season, The Australian Open will be played in Melbourne from 15th – 28th January. The world’s top players will be in action at the newly upgrade Melbourne Park battling it out on court to lift the first Grand Slam trophy of the year.
Defending Men’s champions Roger Federer will be back in action this year, hoping to win his sixth Australia Open championship title. Seven time champion and 2017 winner Serena Williams, who is back on court after giving birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia, has sadly withdrawn from this year’s event. Williams played her first match since giving birth at the beginning of September on 30th December at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi. After losing that exhibition match against current French Open Champion Jelena Ostapenko 2–6, 6-3, [5–10] she decided to withdraw from the Australian Open
“After competing in Abu Dhabi I realized that although I am super close, I’m not where I personally want to be.” Williams said, “Even though I am disappointed about it, I’ve decided not to compete in the Australian Open this year.
Former champion (2009) Rafael Nadal is back at the top of the World rankings and looking to win another Grand Slam title after losing to Federer in last year’s final. Six time champion Novak Djokovic will also be biting at Federer’s heels for another crack at the title. The Women’s event is wide open after Williams withdrawal but there are plenty looking to talk their place on the podium.
In disappointing news for patrotic tennis fans British number one and former World number one Andy Murray, who is actually in Melbourne after hip surgery in the city, will not be competing this year. His subsequent post-op recovery and rehabilitation will see him off court in competition mode for some time, maybe even until the summer’s grass court season. Murray, who has now dropped to 16th in the world rankings, has been dogged with injury since last year’s Wimbledon Championships when he last won a competitive match.
Murray, pictured with his coach Jamie Delgado, after his hip surgery this week in Melbourne (Source: Andy Murray Official Instagram page)
Murray said in an interview with the BBC, “I’m not finished playing tennis yet. I’m going to be competing at the highest level again,” he added, “I’m very optimistic about the future – the surgeon is very happy about how it went.”
British interests now lies elsewhere with eyes trained on British number one and tenth seed Johanna Konta who has enjoyed success in both her previous Australian Open campaigns. Konta, who was forced to retire from the quarters in the Brisbane International last week due to hip problems, is in Sydney where she hoped to defend her 2017 Sydney International title. Things didn’t go to plan for the defending champion who was beaten in the first round by Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3, 7-5 to in a repeat of last year’s final.
British No.2 Kyle Edmund also got to the quarters of the Brisbane event but has withdrawn from this week’s Auckland Open to assess his ankle injury ahead of the Australian Open. Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares who were runners-up at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha and are now in Adelaide to compete for Team International in the World Tennis Challenge ahead of the Australian Open where they won the doubles title in 2016.
For a full player line-up, schedules and all the latest news ahead and during the tournament visit www.ausopen.com
Photos and information used courtesy of www.ausopen.com, www.lta.org.uk and www.bbc.com/sport/tennis/ Featured image used courtesy of www.ausopen.com/news-media/