AUSTRALIAN OPEN: Nadal and Barty in the 1st round on Monday
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A look at the Australian Open which begins on Monday:
There are separate day and night sessions with the featured matches played at the main 15,000-seat Rod Laver Arena and the 7,500-seat Margaret Court Arena. The women’s singles final is January 29 and the men’s singles final is January 30; both are scheduled to begin around 7:30 p.m. local time in Melbourne (3:30 a.m. EST in the US).
COVID-19 cases rising by the tens of thousands every day in Melbourne and the rest of Victoria. State government officials late last week set a 50% attendance cap, and all fans must be double-vaccinated and show proof. However, fans who have already purchased tickets will be honored regardless of capacity restrictions. But all future ticket sales will be maintained at a maximum of 50%.
With Novak Djokovic ruled out of the tournament due to his visa being cancelled, sixth-seeded Rafael Nadal will begin his quest for a record 21st Grand Slam singles trophy when he takes on Marcos Giron. No. 3 seed Alexander Zverev takes on Daniel Altmaier. Top seed Ash Barty plays her first round match against Lesia Tsurenko and defending champion Naomi Osaka is also in action.
Partly cloudy sky and high temperature of 22 Celsius (72 Fahrenheit).
WHO IS MISSING
Six-time Australian Open champion Roger Federer is out as he continues his lengthy recovery from surgery on his right knee. Dominic Thiem, who lost to Djokovic in the 2020 final, has a right wrist injury. Former champion Stan Wawrinka is out following foot surgery and Milos Raonic will miss the Australian Open for the first time since 2011 with an Achilles tendon injury. On the women’s side, the 2022 Australian Open will be the first since 1997 where the tournament does not include either of the Williams sisters. Serena has a hamstring injury and Venus hasn’t played since August due to a leg injury. Other absentees include 2021 finalist Jennifer Brady, who suffers a left foot injury, Karolina Pliskova (right hand injury) and 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, who said she will absent from sport to address mental health issues.
KEY STATISTICS (1)
1978 – The last time an Australian won the Australian Open singles title (Chris O’Neill). Two-time major champion Barty wants to end that streak, although she may meet defending champion Naomi Osaka in the fourth round. Barty is coming off a win at the Adelaide International this month, beating Coco Gauff, 2020 Australian Open champion Sofin Kenin and 2020 French Open winner Iga Swiatek en route to her 14th WTA title.
KEY STATISTICS (2)
2 – Nadal is trying to become the second man in the Open Era – and only the fourth man – to win each of the four Grand Slam singles titles twice, after Djokovic completed the double by winning his second Roland title Garros in 2021. Australians Roy Emerson and Rod Laver are the only other players to have won every Grand Slam two or more times. (While Laver completed the feat in 1969, some of the titles were won before the Open Era began in 1968.)
Total: A$75 million ($54.6 million). The singles winners each take home A$4.4 million (about $3.15 million).
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