Grand Slam season is back in swing as the 2018 Australian Open has kicked off, beginning with main draw and seeding announcements.
The main draw of the Australian Open is set to begin on January 15 with some absences and new rules. Predictions have begun to circle around as to whom will win the Aussie Open this year.
On the men’s side, Roger Federer is the favorite to defend his 2017 title. Winning last year gave him 19 Grand Slam titles and made him the all-time record holder in men’s singles titles.
For the women, defending champion Serena Williams withdrew not long after competing in an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi. Williams match against French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko was her first competitive match since giving birth. With Williams out, the favorites to win this year are world No. 1 Simona Halep and 2017 Wimbledon champ Garbine Muguruza.
Some other key inactives for the tournament are Andy Murray (hip injury), Kei Nishikori (wrist injury), Victoria Azarenka (custody battle) and Svetlana Kuznetsova (wrist surgery). With these absences, it’s possible an unranked underdog could sneak in and take all the glory.
With the tournament set to begin next week, the full draw and seeding has been announced.
Men: 1. Rafael Nadal, 2. Roger Federer, 3. Grigor Dimitrov, 4. Alexander Zverev, 5. Dominic Thiem, 6. Marin Čilić, 7. David Goffin, 8. Jack Sock, 9. Stan Wawrinka, 10. Pablo Carreño Busta, 11. Kevin Anderson, 12. Juan Martín del Potro, 13. Sam Querrey, 14. Novak Djokovic, 15. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 16. John Isner, 17. Nick Kyrgios, 18. Lucas Pouille, 19. Tomáš Berdych, 20. Roberto Bautista Agut, 21. Albert Ramos Viñolas, 22. Milos Raonic, 23. Gilles Müller, 24. Diego Schwartzman, 25. Fabio Fognini, 26. Adrian Mannarino, 27. Philipp Kohlschreiber, 28. Damir Džumhur, 29. Richard Gasquet, 30. Andrey Rublev, 31. Pablo Cuevas, 32. Mischa Zverev
Women: 1. Simona Halep, 2. Caroline Wozniacki, 3. Garbiñe Muguruza, 4. Elina Svitolina, 5. Venus Williams, 6. Karolína Plíšková, 7. Jeļena Ostapenko, 8. Caroline Garcia, 9. Johanna Konta, 10. CoCo Vandeweghe, 11. Kristina Mladenovic, 12. Julia Georges, 13. Sloane Stephens, 14. Anastasija Sevastova, 15. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 16. Elena Vesnina, 17. Madison Keys, 18. Ashleigh Barty, 19. Magdaléna Rybáriková, 20. Barbora Strýcová, 21. Angelique Kerber, 22. Daria Kasatkina, 23. Daria Gavrilova, 24. Dominika Cibulková, 25. Peng Shuai, 26. Agnieszka Radwańska, 27. Petra Kvitová, 28. Mirjana Lučić-Baroni, 29. Lucie Šafářová, 30. Kiki Bertens, 31. Ekaterina Makarova, 32. Anett Kontaveit
There are a total of 16 Aussie players (nine men and seven women) in the tournament. Here’s how they favored:
Nick Kyrgios (17) vs Rogerio Dutra-Silva (Bra)
Thanasi Kokkinakis vs Daniil Medvedev (Russia)
Matthew Ebden vs 16-John Isner (USA)
Jordan Thompson vs Nicolas Kicker (ARG)
John Millman vs Borna Coric (Cro)
Alex De Minaur vs Tomas Berdych (19)
Alex Bolt vs Viktor Troicki (Srb)
Jason Kubler vs 10-Pablo Carreno Busta (Esp)
Alexei Popyrin vs Tim Smyczek (USA)
Ashleigh Barty (18) vs vs Aryna Sabalenka (Blr)
Daria Gavrilova (23) vs qualifier
Samantha Stosur vs Monica Puig (Pur)
Destanee Aiava vs 1-Simona Halep (Rou)
Olivia Rogowska vs Jaimee Fourlis (Aus)
Ajla Tomljanovic vs 29-Lucie Safarova (Cze)
Lizette Cabrera vs Beatriz Haddad Maia (Bra)
Grand Slam board members as well as ITF President David Haggerty announced rules will be introduced in 2018-19 for all Grand Slam tournaments.
They are as follows:
– A 25-second shot clock will be displayed at the Australian Open and used in between points.
– Pre-match warm-up timing will be enforced. Upon walking on, a time limit of one minute is in effect followed by the five minute warm-up and then, one minute to start the match. Any
violation of the timing is subject to a fine up to $20,000.
– Any main draw singles player who is forced to withdraw after the Thursday before the start of the tournament will now receive 50 percent of the first round prize money. The replacement Lucky Loser will receive the remaining 50 percent.
– 2018 Grand Slam tournaments will remain with 32 seeds in singles, but will revert back to 16 seeds in 2019. The 16 seeds was the system in place until Wimbledon in 2001.
So with all that being said….are you ready for some tennis??!!
Diamond Holton can be reached on Twitter @_PensAndWords_