MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A glance at the Australian Open, the year’s first Grand Slam tennis tournament:
The 14-day tournament begins Monday (Sunday EST). The women’s singles final is Feb. 1; the men’s singles final is Feb. 2. Like at the U.S. Open, there are separate day and night sessions.
LOOKAHEAD TO MONDAY
Day 1 at the Australian Open features a big lineup of past champions on Rod Laver Arena and a contest between the oldest and youngest players in the women’s draw when 39-year-old Venus Williams and Coco Gauff meet in a rematch of their Wimbledon first-round encounter. The 15-year-old Gauff announced herself to a global audience last year with her upset win over the seven-time major winner at Wimbledon. Williams’ 72 main draw matches at Melbourne Park (she’s 53-19) is second only to her younger sister and seven-time Australian Open champion Serena Williams (85-11). Serena will begin another bid for a record 24th Grand Slam singles title when she plays Anastasia Potapova on Rod Laver Arena, after defending champion Naomi Osaka’s opener against Marie Bouzkova. Six-time champion Roger Federer is third up on Rod Laver against Steve Johnson, followed by women’s No. 1 Ash Barty. Then, Novak Djokovic, who has a record seven men’s titles in Melbourne, opens against Jan-Lennard Struff.
Rain, possible late storm. High of 82 degrees (28 Celsius).
2019 WOMEN’S SINGLES CHAMPION
Naomi Osaka, Japan
2019 MEN’S SINGLES CHAMPION
Novak Djokovic, Serbia
Osaka won her second Grand Slam title in a row by edging Petra Kvitova 7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-4 in the women’s final. The victory also allowed Osaka to move atop the WTA rankings for the first time, becoming the first man or woman representing Japan to sit at No. 1. A day later, Djokovic produced a remarkably mistake-free and overpowering performance in the men’s final to rout Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 for a record seventh Australian Open championship and a third consecutive Grand Slam title. “Truly a perfect performance,” Djokovic called it.
WHO IS MISSING
It turned out Andy Murray didn’t walk away from tennis after last year’s Australian Open, which was what everyone expected after his tear-filled departure from Melbourne. He wound up having a second hip operation, then coming back to the tour later in 2019. But Murray will not be making a return to Australia in 2020, forced to withdraw this time because of an injury to his pelvis. Others withdrawing because of health issues include reigning U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu, 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, 2014 U.S. Open runner-up Kei Nishikori, 2016 Olympic champion Monica Puig and top-ranked Australian Alex de Minaur.
12 — Consecutive Grand Slam singles titles won by Federer, Nadal or Djokovic. They’ve also combined to win 14 of the last 16 Australian Open trophies.
1 — Number of tour-level titles Serena Williams has claimed in the three years since she won the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant. Her first trophy as a mother came this month in Auckland, New Zealand. Williams has gone 0-4 in Grand Slam finals since that triumph in Melbourne as she tries to equal Margaret Court with 24 major titles.
A tournament-record total of 71 million Australian dollars (about $49 million), with 4.12 million Australian dollars (about $2.85 million) each to the women’s and men’s singles champions.
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