Australian Open 2021 Preview by Matt
Updated: Feb 8
Grand Slam tennis returns with the Australian Open starting Monday 8 February and running until the Men's Final on the 21 February.
Men's Favourites to Win
It's difficult to look past Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal for joint favourites for this the 109th edition, who between them have won nine of the last thirteen Australian Open titles.
Djokovic, eight time champion and winner of the last two titles down under, tops the entry list as the No. 1 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings. The Serbian owns a sensational 75-8 record at this major, where he has the perfect 8-0 in the final!
Nadal, although not a winner since 2009 finds great consistency in Melbourne with the Spaniard holding an impressive record of only losing one match before the quarter finals since 2005.
Along with Federer, these three have dominated the worlds stage for well over a decade now. Is it time for some of the new guard to finally start consistency beating them? If so then Dominic Thiem or Daniil Medvedev look the most capable after a breakthrough 2020 for both.
Thiem claimed his maiden grand slam at the US Open last year and again looks to be the main threat to challenge the big three for the title. Thiem in three words; positive, power and natural. Put that with probably the most devastating backhand currently in the game then you personally get my favourite for the tournament.
He's not everyone's cup of tea but undoubtedly one of the toughest to beat with a very unorthodox playing style and rock solid defence. Medvedev finished the season in peak form lifting the final Nitto ATP Finals in the London enabling him to finish the season in a carer high ranking of four.
One to Watch
Stefanos Tsitsipas, a personal favourite of mine who I really enjoy watching. Elegant one-hander with a huge heart and someone who deserves to further build on what was a great season last year.
Ladies Favourites to Win
Serena Williams has been looking for a 24th career Grand Slam title for some time despite her best efforts, a title that would allow her to reach the top of this particular ranking at Margaret Court. She can win a Slam on every surface, but at Wimbledon and at the Australian Open lies her best chances.
Naomi Osaka has everything to impose herself on her rivals: physical and technical strength, mental persistence and tactics. Only piece of the jigsaw left to find is shear consistency from one tournament to the next. Already a multiple grand slam winner at 23, if she adds week in week out consistency to her game then she’ll very quickly jump back to world number one and rack up the titles.
Simona Halep is the only woman besides Osaka with multiple Grand Slam titles since the start of the 2017 season, and the Romanian is the best defender in the game today. Halep with her considerable mental strength, is now reaching the peak of her mental, physical, technical and tactical maturity. Experience, bitter defeats and sweet victories have given her that dose of experience that many young tennis players, even Grand Slam champions, lack.
Ashleigh Barty has the most variety of the top players, allowing her to excel on all surfaces. She can hang with anybody from the baseline but also loves to mix in the slice and is among the best volleyers in the women's game. Look for the 2019 French Open champion and 2020 Australian Open semifinalist to pick up where she left off when Barty makes her return to the tour in 2021.
Sofia Kenin broke out in 2020, winning the Australian Open to start the year and backing that result up with her best career results at the US Open (Round of 16) and French Open (runner-up). The 22-year-old American has an all-court playing style that revolves around her exquisite timing, as she can effortlessly absorb power and turn defence into offence.
One to Watch
Coco Gauff has become a household name in the tennis world and beyond, as she broke through to the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2019 at age 15. She added a fourth-round appearance at the 2020 Australian Open, and it won't be long until Coco's making the quarterfinals or better at majors.
Absolutely gutted for Andy Murray to miss out on a return to Melbourne, following the grand slams hasn’t quite been the same without him! At least his brother will be about who has recently rekindled the dream team with Bruno Soares making them a real contender for the doubles title. Unfortunately Kyle Edmund will also miss the Open citing an ongoing knee injury, therefore with their absent Dan Evans leads the men’s charge.
Evans will be looking to build on his excellent 2020 season, which saw him rise to a career high of No. 28 in the world. After an impressive semi-final run at Delray Beach in January, Cameron Norrie is also set to compete in the men’s singles draw.
Johanna Konta followed up her best Grand Slam season in 2019 with her worst in 2020. The Brit made the quarterfinals or better at each of the last three majors in 2019, including her third career Grand Slam semifinal at the French Open, then unfortunately had a 2020 to forgot (that said probably not the only one!!) Hopefully she’ll bounce back and finally grab that maiden grand slam. Konta is joined by Heather Watson, Katie Boulter and Grand Slam main draw debutant Francesca Jones in a strong women’s singles field.
20 year old Jones, despite going into qualifying has one of the lowest ranked players in the draws, blitzed the field to qualify with ease. Jones is moulding herself into an elite athlete despite being born with ectrodactyly ectodermal dysplasia syndrome resulting in spending much of her youth and early career in hospital.
Joe Salisbury, the 2020 Australian Open men’s doubles champion, will be aiming to defend his title with partner Rajeev Ram. Jamie Murray, Neal Skupski, Ken Skupski, Jonny O’Mara, Dominic Inglot and Luke Bambridge will also represent Great Britain in the men’s doubles draw.
Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid will hope to reclaim their wheelchair doubles title and will both be hot favourites to compete in the singles draw. Andy Lapthorne, who has triumphed five times in the Australian Grand Slam, will also be targeting more glory in Melbourne this year.
How to watch?
The 2021 Australian Open is live and exclusive on Eurosport. You can watch every moment on eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app.