Australian Open 2021 is ready to roll

  • Alex Sharp

The Melbourne Summer Series, alongside the star-studded ATP Cup, provided the platform for The Happy Slam to burst into life.

Australian Open 2021 is now here, and there are an abundance of storylines to keep an eye on over the next fortnight.

World No.1 Ash Barty will headline the home charge at Melbourne Park. The Australian, despite an 11-month absence from competitive tennis, seamlessly returned to elite action at the WTA Yarra Valley Classic.

MORE: Day 1 schedule of play

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The Australian Open trophies on display on Monday morning

Barty lifted the trophy having toppled AO 2020 finalist Garbine Muguruza 7-6(3) 6-4 on Sunday.

The top seed, who opens her home major against world No.77 Danka Kovinic on Tuesday, also launched her Australian summer with a trophy last year.

The 24-year-old was hailed champion in Adelaide in the week prior to AO 2020, before a semifinal showing at Melbourne Park. Can the world No.1 conjure up another captivating deep run? 

Over on the men’s side, the green and gold contingent are led by the likes of Alex de Minaur and Nick Kyrgios. However, the chasing pack have two parts of the ‘Big Three’ contingent to oust.

Rafael Nadal, who won his sole Australian Open crown in 2009, has since been a four-time finalist on Rod Laver Arena . 

Rewind to October at Roland Garros and the ‘King of Clay’ levelled Roger Federer on 20 Grand Slams. Can the Spaniard break clear at the top of the all-time men’s major roster?

Novak Djokovic will have a big say. The world No.1, facing Frenchman Jeremy Chardy on Monday night, is the reigning champion with an unprecedented eight Australian Open titles to his name, and 17 majors.

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Strong victories over Alexander Zverev and Denis Shapovalov at the ATP Cup indicate the Serbian is primed for another impressive fortnight on his favourite courts.

The young guns will hope to disrupt the order.

Jannik Sinner, fresh from winning back-to-back titles at the Great Ocean Road Open at the weekend, together with Russia’s Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev becoming ATP Cup champions, illustrates they are finding from at the right time.

And US Open champion and AO 2020 finalist Dominic Thiem now has the big-time experience that means he is sure to be in the mix too.

Perhaps the most captivating narrative of all see Serena Williams continue to chase that elusive 24th major title. Seven times an Australian Open champion, last in 2017, no one can count out the 10th seed.

Unfortunately for Serena fans the task is only getting tougher with recent major winners such as Iga Swiatek, Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep and defending champion Sofia Kenin all in contention. 

Let the shocks, marathon matches, sublime shots and Melbourne memories begin.