Which Australian tennis players are competing in the Australian Open 2022?
This year, Aussies will have their fair share of players (and former champions) to root for.
In what will be his last tournament ever, after announcing his retirement at the end of last year, Dylan Alcott will return to defend his Wheelchair Quad Singles title one last time. The World No. 1 has won the title seven years straight, and will be aiming to take out the top prize for an eighth and final time.
Ash Barty will be attempting to back up her 2021 Wimbledon and 2019 French Open wins, with her first ever win at the Aus Open. The World No. 1 is expected to perform well on the blue courts, after making it to the Quarter Final in 2021 and Semi Final in 2020. In the lead-up to the Aus Open, she won the Adelaide International last week in straight sets against Elena Rybakina.
Sam Stosur will compete in her final Australian Open in the singles arena, saying "once I made the decision, then I felt really good about it." However she'll continue her professional career in doubles after this event, with her partner Zhang Shuai.
World No. 34 Alex de Minaur will return to compete in the Men's Singles Event. The fan-favourite Aussie tennis star made it to the Third Round last year, and is on a roll after beating World No. 7 Matteo Berrettini at the ATP Cup event in Sydney.
Nick Kyrgios has made it to Melbourne just in time for the AO, flying down on Sunday ahead of the event kick-off on Monday. The 26-year-old player tested positive for COVID one week earlier and isolated in Sydney until receiving a negative test result.
Other Aussies include James Duckworth, John Millman, Alexei Popyrin and Jordan Thompson, Astra Sharma and Ajla Tomljanovic. See the full list of players here.
What are the COVID-19 and vaccination rules?
Players, support staff, officials, fans and anyone who wants to attend the tennis must be fully vaccinated or have a medical exemption. Excluding those aged younger than 12 years and two months.
International players had to present proof of a negative test in the 72 hours before travelling to Australia, where they had to isolate until returning a further negative test on arrival.
But, not all stars have returned negative tests upon arrival.
What happened with Novak Djokovic and the Australian Open?
Amid speculation over whether or not he would attend the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic pulled out of the ATP Cup earlier in the month.
On January 4, Novak uploaded an Instagram post revealing he had received a medical exemption to attend the Australian Open and would be flying down to Melbourne to compete. The post sparked major backlash as the public learned he was receiving an exemption, as he is unvaccinated.
But then, his visa was denied by Border Force upon arrival at Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne.
What followed was a lengthy back-and-forth court process that saw the unvaccinated tennis player temporarily placed in a detention hotel, allowed out into the community in Melbourne when Judge Anthony Kelly overturned the decision, returned to a detention hotel when his visa was cancelled again by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, and then, finally, deported on January 16 by the Federal Court.
One thing is clear from the muddy, confusing mess that is the Djokovic saga: the players are sick of it.
The legendary Rafael Nadal told a press conference that no single player is bigger than the Australian Open and revealed he was tired of the "circus" around the star.
"I'm just a player seeing the circus from the outside. But, as I said, I am a little bit tired of this matter," he told CNN.
"It's very clear that Novak Djokovic is one of the best players of the history, without a doubt,” Nadal said in a presser. "But there is no one player in history that’s more important than an event.
"Australian Open is much more important than any player. If he’s playing finally, OK. If he’s not playing, Australian Open will be great Australian Open with or without him."
Meanwhile Aussie Alex de Minaur said it had taken a spotlight away from the competitors.
"I'm just ready to put all of this behind me and focus on playing my tennis matches... we all just want to get on with our own stuff."
Who currently holds the Australian Open Championship title?
Novak Djokovic defeated Daniil Medvedev in the Men’s Singles Grand Final, while Naomi Osaka defeated Jennifer Brady in the Women’s Singles Grand Final.
Joachim Gérard defeated Alfie Hewett in the Wheelchair Men’s Singles, Diede de Groot defeated Yui Kamiji in the Wheelchair Women’s Singles, Dylan Alcott defeated Sam Schröder in the Wheelchair Quad Singles.
Who is tipped to win the Australian Open 2022?
Sure to change based on the early match performance, here’s who is currently tipped to win and be named runner-up in the Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles according to SportsBet:
Predicted Men’s Singles Winner: Daniil Medvedev
Predicted Men’s Singles Runner-Up: Alexander Zverev
Predicted Women’s Singles Winner: Ash Barty
Predicted Women’s Singles Runner-Up: Naomi Osaka
The Australian Open will air on the Nine Network and 9Now from January 17 - 30, 2022.