The leading men’s and women’s players will be split between tournaments in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne from next week. The NSW capital is hosting the 16-nation ATP Cup men’s team event from Saturday, a tournament that has now lost Novak Djokovic, No. 1 in the world.
With around 3,000 players and support staff landing in Melbourne and Sydney around Christmas, several women’s players have already flown on to SA for next week’s Adelaide International. The field boasts most of the world’s top 10, including Wimbledon champion Barty.
Murray, 34, is set to play in the Australian Open for the first time in three years after Tennis Australia did not hesitate to award him a wildcard. While Melbourne Park has been the scene of five failed trips to the final for him, the Scot will no doubt be delighted to be Down Under again.
A year ago, Murray’s poorly timed COVID-19 positive test killed a trip to Melbourne. In 2019, before the tournament, a tearful Murray admitted that the event could be his last tournament as he continued a fight uphill against a disabling hip injury that threatened his career.
After the operation, however, world No. 134 turns out to be a threat to some new players in men’s tennis, for example by pushing Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas to five sets at the US Open.
The veteran has also been a sane voice for the benefits of vaccination, revealing that he received his third dose of a COVID-19 vaccination just before traveling to Australia.
Known for his occasional deadpan humor, Murray said on Twitter: “Got my third microchip injected into me today Jokes aside … science is the best. Thank you scientists, thank you doctors and health professionals for the incredible work, I performs. “
Murray played in an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi this month, a tournament that has become known for positive COVID-19 multiplayer events, disrupting their Australian preparations.
Most notably, 20-time major winner Rafael Nadal confirmed he was testing positive, questioning his Australian Open campaign. Young Canadian star Denis Shapovalov said his positives came through after arriving in Sydney.
Russian top-10 player Audrey Rublev said he discovered his positive COVID-19 result in Barcelona before traveling to Australia.
In contrast, Barty – who is once again seeking to become the first home-grown winner of the Australian Open in more than four decades – has fine-tuned his game in a pre-season conducted solely on these shores.
Typically, Barty has maintained a balanced approach as she handles a nation’s hopes.
“For me, there is none of that expectation. The only focus I have for myself is that I go out there and do the best I can,” Barty said when he was awarded a double winner by Newcombe- the medal.
“I know I’ve done all the work. I know I’m prepared.
“You do not win every single tennis match, but you can go out there and give it a red crack. That’s what I’m going to do this summer.
“Whether it works for us or not, we start our summer with a smile and we end our summer with a smile and we enjoy every second in between.”
STOP PACKAGE JANUARY
- Adelaide International – WTA 500 (January 3-9)
- 2 x Melbourne WTA 250 (January 4-9)
- ATP Cup, Sydney (January 1-9)
- ATP 250 Adelaide (January 10-15)
- Sydney Tennis Classic, ATP and WTA (January 10-15)
- WTA 250 Adelaide (January 10-15)
- Australian Open, Melbourne (January 17-30)