Australian Open 2020 is primed to be the best in the tournament’s 115-year history, with the sport’s top 100 men and women confirmed to compete at Melbourne Park from 20 January to 2 February.
World No.1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic (SRB), winner of a record seven Australian Open singles titles, will return to his happy hunting ground, hotly pursued by 2019 US Open and Roland Garros champion No.2 Rafael Nadal (ESP), seeking his 20thoverall Grand Slam singles title, which would equal that of men’s record-holder Roger Federer (SUI).
At 38, world No.3 Federer is in contention for a seventh Australian Open title, having stunned the world by last capturing the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup in 2017 and 2018, sparking a renaissance in form and a return to the No.1 ranking.
Standing in the path of these AO giants is five-time finalist Andy Murray (GBR), who 12 months ago did not know if he would ever compete in singles again after a hip injury.
Returning to the main draw with a protected ranking of No.2 and restored physical powers, Murray is just one of many fascinating storylines that will transfix the world when the first Grand Slam tournament of the season begins.
Hoping to upstage the greatest rivals in sport is the next generation of superstars, No.4 Danil Medvedev (RUS), No.5 Dominic Thiem (AUT), No.6 Alexander Zverev (GER) and last year’s AO revelation, Athens-born No.7 Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE), embraced by Melbourne, home to the largest population of Greek fans outside Greece.
On the women’s side, tennis fans will follow the fortunes of new champions, young stars on the precipice of greatness, and a living legend of the sport in No.9 Serena Williams (USA), who has claimed more titles than any other woman at Melbourne Park in the Open era (7), and is one short (23) of equalling Margaret Court’s record 24 majors.
Pregnant with her daughter Alexis Olympia during her victorious AO 2017 final, Serena could line-up with another popular mother, Kim Clijsters (BEL), who announced she’ll be returning to tennis and possible Grand Slam action after an eight-year absence during which the bubbly Belgian became a mother of three and a noted tennis broadcaster.
Missing the sport she excelled in before and after motherhood, Clijsters, who won her fourth Grand Slam overall and her first AO in 2011, declared in September that she would train hard to start her revival in January.
With the balance of power in women’s tennis at an enthralling stage in the game’s history, and the fight to be No.1 a constant battleground for supremacy, defending champion [No.4] Naomi Osaka (JPN), the first Japanese-born champion in AO history, will have a surfeit of powerful challengers wanting to emulate her success in Melbourne.