Digital Desk, Melbourne (IANS). Tennis giants Roger Federer and Serena Williams have confirmed to play at the first Grand Slam-Australian Open of the year. Apart from these two veterans, world number-1 women’s tennis player Ashlegut Barty and eight-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia will also play in the first Grand Slam of the year from February 8 to 21.
Federer did not seem to be attending the Australian Open as he needed time to get fit after two rounds of knee surgery. But the Swiss player has started his training in Dubai and he is among the players who will come to Melbourne Park. Eight-time Australian Open champion Serena will have a chance to win the most Grand Slam titles in the women’s singles category in the tournament and to match Margaret’s record of winning 24 Grand Slam titles.
“The Australian Open this time will be different from the previous one,” tournament director Craig Tille said in a statement on Thursday. Safety of players is important for us. We have the opportunity to conduct this tournament in a safe environment. The players have missed the audience a lot this year.
He said, this time there are many great stories for the Australian Open. Many players are returning after injury or staying away for personal reasons. Serena will clash for her eighth Australian title this time. His record in Melbourne Park is superb. At the same time, Djokovic will play for his ninth Australian Open title. Australian number-1 player Ashley Barty is also returning to the Grand Slam. Federer is also returning after an injury.
In the men’s singles category, apart from Djokovic, World No. 2 Rafael Nadal, Dominique Thiem, Danil Medvedev, Stefanos Sitipas, Alejacandr Zverev, Andrea Rublev, Diego Schwatgerman and Matio Brettini will also compete in the Australian Open. The women’s world rankings include number two Simona Halep, 2020 US Open champion Naomi Osaka, defending champion Sophia Kainin, Alina Svitolina, Carolina Pliskova, Bianca Andreescu, Petra Quitova, Kiki Bertens and Arya Sabalenka.
Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka did not play in 2020 and is now returning. Apart from them, 19-year-old Inga Swiatek, who won the Roland Garros title in October, will also participate. A total of 104 players will get direct entry into the main draw of the men’s and women’s singles and eight will enter the tournament with a wild card.
The Australian Open will start from 8 February and will run till 21 February. Due to Corona, this hard court event is being held in February instead of January. The men’s qualification event for the Australian Open will be held in Doha from 10 to 13 January. The players will then gather in Melbourne and go on a 14-day quarantine.