The entry list of the 2021 Australian Open is out, and to the delight of his legions of fans, Roger Federer’s name features in it. So does that of 23-time Grand Slam champion, and fellow 39-year-old, Serena Williams.
Due to the pandemic, the 2021 Australian Open has been delayed from its usual January start and will be held from February 8 to 21.
Federer had sent the tennis world in a frenzy when, recently, he admitted that he still wasn’t 100% sure to recover before the Australian Open. The Swiss played only one tournament in 2020 before undergoing two knee surgeries and is still recuperating from them.
Meanwhile, Serena will once again aim to win her record-equalling 24th major. The title has eluded her since made a comeback after childbirth in 2018. Though Williams has reached Grand Slam finals thrice since, but hasn’t been able to take the final step.
World No 1 Djokovic, who has won a record eight titles at the Australian Open, will be keen to defend his title and close the gap on Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most men’s Grand Slam titles won. He is currently at 17, three short of Federer and Nadal.
“We are looking forward to welcoming the world’s best players to Melbourne and what promises to be a spectacular Australian Open following a year of disruption on a scale none of us has ever experienced before,” Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said.
“Although the AO will look a bit different to previous years, the safety of everyone is our top priority. We have the opportunity to stage a very safe, and happy Slam, and give the players the experience of competing in front of crowds again, something they’ve missed for most of this year.”
A total of 104 players receive direct entry into the men’s and women’s singles main draw and a further eight are awarded wildcards, while 16 places will be determined at the qualifying rounds from 10-13 January 2021 in Dubai and Doha respectively.
In the past 17 years, the all-time Grand Slam leading trio of Djokovic (2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020), Federer (2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2017, 2018) and Nadal (2009) have won the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup 15 times between them.
There have been eight different women’s champions since 2011 – Kenin (2020), Osaka (2019), Caroline Wozniacki (2018), Serena Williams (2017, 2015), Angelique Kerber (2016), Li Na (2014), Azarenka (2013, 2012) and Kim Clijsters (2011).