Hall of Famer Kim Clijsters will play her first Grand Slam match in eight years.
That same year at this event, Andy Murray won his first Major. Today he will vie for his first win at a Slam since the 2018 US Open. Also on Tuesday, both Williams sisters will be in action, with Venus having a tough draw in a top 20 seed. And the two men who have come closest to ending The Big 3’s reign at the Majors, Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev, will begin their 2020 US Open campaigns.
Ekaterina Alexandrova (21) vs. Kim Clijsters (WC)
Kim’s retirement came here in 2012 at the hands of Laura Robson, at an event she was champion of three times. Her return began earlier this year, with respectable losses to Garbine Muguruza and Johanna Konta. She then played and impressed last month in World Team Tennis. Kim had to pull out of the Western & Southern Open last week with an abdominal injury, but reportedly should be good to go today. Her opponent is far from an easy draw. 25-year-old Alexandrova was one of the hottest players on tour before the pandemic shutdown. She was the champion in Shenzhen, and a semifinalist in St. Petersburg. However, Ekaterina has a losing record in her career at the Slams. Based on how well Kim was hitting the ball in World Team Tennis, I give the slight edge to the four-time Major singles champion.
Karolina Muchova (20) vs. Venus Williams
Venus is playing in her 22nd US Open singles draw. In her 21 previous appearances, she has never lost in the first round. But with only two wins since last year’s event, she’s unseeded and thus faces a top 30 player in her opening round. Muchova was a quarterfinalist at last year’s Wimbledon, and claimed a hard court title last September in Seoul. Karolina possesses a lot of variety in her game, and may prove to be a frustrating opponent for a rusty Venus. With a lack of recent wins, and the lack of a partisan crowd cheering her own, Venus will need to call upon the fighting spirit she’s so often displayed over her long career to avoid an opening round loss.
Roberto Bautista Agut (8) vs Tennys Sandgren
Bautista Agut was a semifinalist last week, and was just a few points away from handing Novak Djokovic his first loss of the year. The 32-year-old veteran continues to improve his level of play, and is the rare Spaniard that excels on hard courts. Likewise, Sandgren has found success on this surface, having reached the Australian Open quarterfinals two of the last three years. He infamously failed to convert seven match points against Roger Federer this past January in Melbourne. This first round encounter could be grueling, between two players who are prone to long best-of-five matches. Bautista Agut is the favorite to advance, in a tough section of the draw where red-hot Milos Raonic may be waiting in the third round.
Karen Khachanov (11) vs. Jannik Sinner
This is one of the most appetizing first round matchups, featuring two big, up-and-coming ball-strikers. 24-year-old Khachanov had a breakout 2018 season, highlighted by his Masters 1,000 title victory in Bercy. 19-year-old Sinner was the champion at last November’s ATP Next Gen Finals, defeating Alex de Minaur in the final. Their first career meeting today will likely be the first of many to come. The experience of Khachanov should be enough to advance here, as Sinner only has one career match win at a Major. But early in his career, Jannik has already shown off some flashy play mixed with grit, and is capable of the upset to start the day out on Court 8.
Grigor Dimitrov (14) vs. Tommy Paul
This is a rematch from the last Major, when the American claimed this biggest victory of his career. On that day, Paul let a two-set lead slip away, but managed to persevere and win in a fifth set tiebreak. That was on the heels of an impressive fall on the Challenger circuit, where Tommy accumulated 17 match wins from September to November. Dimitrov was a semifinalist here a year ago, but is just 8-6 this season. And Grigor battled COVID-19 earlier this summer, derailing his training for a significant amount of time. Dimitrov received some unfair blame for the spread of the virus amidst the mess that was the Adria Tour. In a match that feels like it could go either way, Dimitrov’s eagerness to avenge his previous loss, and to show that he’s fully recovered from the virus, may be the deciding factors.
Other Notable Matches on Day 2:
23-time Major champion Serena Williams (3) vs. Kristie Ahn, who made a surprise run to the fourth round here a year ago.
2012 champion Andy Murray vs. Yoshihito Nishioka, who has not played a match since February.
Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin (2) vs. Yanina Wickmayer, who reached the US Open semifinals back in 2009.
Australian Open finalist Dominic Thiem (2) vs. Jaume Munar, a 23-year-old from Spain ranked outside the top 100. Thiem lost in the first round of the US Open a year ago, as well as his opening match last week.
Last year’s finalist, who became the villain of the fortnight, Daniil Medvedev (3) vs. Federico Delbonis, a 29-year-old veteran who has only won four hard court matches at Majors in his career.
Order of play (All times local, -5 hours from BST)
Arthur Ashe Stadium
Andy Murray (Gbr) v Yoshihito Nishioka (Jpn)
Kristie Ahn (USA) v (3) Serena Williams (USA)
Not before 19:00pm
(20) Karolina Muchova (Cze) v Venus Williams (USA)
Federico Delbonis (Arg) v (3) Daniil Medvedev (Rus)
Louis Armstrong Stadium
Nao Hibino (Jpn) v (10) Garbine Muguruza (Spa)
Jaume Munar (Spa) v (2) Dominic Thiem (Aut)
Yanina Wickmayer (Bel) v (2) Sofia Kenin (USA)
(7) Madison Keys (USA) v Timea Babos (Hun)
(14) Grigor Dimitrov (Bul) v Tommy Paul (USA)
MacKenzie McDonald (USA) v (30) Casper Ruud (Nor)
Lauren Davis (USA) v Alize Cornet (Fra)
Corentin Moutet (Fra) v Jiri Vesely (Cze)
Salvatore Caruso (Ita) v James Duckworth (Aus)
(15) Maria Sakkari (Gre) v Stefanie Voegele (Swi)
11:00: (16) Elise Mertens (Bel) v Laura Siegemund (Ger)
Heather Watson (Gbr) v (9) Johanna Konta (Gbr)
Thiago Seyboth Wild (Bra) v (23) Daniel Evans (Gbr)
Victoria Azarenka (Blr) v Barbara Haas (Aut)
Frances Tiafoe (USA) v Andreas Seppi (Ita)
Andrey Kuznetsov (Rus) v Sam Querrey (USA)
Claire Liu (USA) v Sara Sorribes Tormo (Spa)
Feliciano Lopez (Spa) v Roberto Carballes Baena (Spa)
Ivo Karlovic (Cro) v Richard Gasquet (Fra)
(18) Donna Vekic (Cro) v Kristyna Pliskova (Cze)
Sorana Cirstea (Rom) v Christina McHale (USA)
(31) Marin Cilic (Cro) v Denis Kudla (USA)
Katerina Siniakova (Cze) v Kaia Kanepi (Est)
(5) Aryna Sabalenka (Blr) v Oceane Dodin (Fra)
John Millman (Aus) v (22) Nikoloz Basilashvili (Geo)
Jannik Sinner (Ita) v (11) Karen Khachanov (Rus)
Vera Zvonareva (Rus) v Leylah Annie Fernandez (Can)
Christopher O’Connell (Aus) v Laslo Djere (Ser)
Viktoria Kuzmova (Svk) v Catherine McNally (USA)
Sachia Vickery (USA) v Taylor Townsend (USA)
Margarita Gasparyan (Rus) v Monica Puig (Pur)
Norbert Gombos (Svk) v Radu Albot (Mol)
Anna Kalinskaya (Rus) v Nina Stojanovic (Ser)
Marcel Granollers (Spa) v Kamil Majchrzak (Pol)
Bernarda Pera (USA) v Zarina Diyas (Kaz)
Ysaline Bonaventure (Bel) v (25) Shuai Zhang (Chn)
Jeremy Chardy (Fra) v (10) Andrey Rublev (Rus)
(8) Roberto Bautista Agut (Spa) v Tennys Sandgren (USA)
(21) Alex De Minaur (Aus) v Andrej Martin (Svk)
Kim Clijsters (Bel) v (21) Ekaterina Alexandrova (Rus)
Sumit Nagal (Ind) v Bradley Klahn (USA)
Taro Daniel (Jpn) v Gregoire Barrere (Fra)
(27) Ons Jabeur (Tun) v Katarzyna Kawa (Pol)
Iga Swiatek (Pol) v (29) Veronika Kudermetova (Rus)
Yuichi Sugita (Jpn) v Ugo Humbert (Fra)
Emil Ruusuvuori (Fin) v Aljaz Bedene (Slo)
Vasek Pospisil (Can) v Philipp Kohlschreiber (Ger)
Jil Belen Teichmann (Swi) v Aliona Bolsova (Spa)
Gianluca Mager (Ita) v Miomir Kecmanovic (Ser)
Vitalia Diatchenko (Rus) v Olga Govortsova (Blr)
Tsvetana Pironkova (Bul) v Ludmilla Samsonova (Rus)
Natalia Vikhlyantseva (Rus) v Katrina Scott (USA)
(29) Guido Pella (Arg) v Jeffrey John Wolf (USA)
Marton Fucsovics (Hun) v Hugo Dellien (Bol)
Patricia Maria Tig (Rom) v Kurumi Nara (Jpn)
Viktoriya Tomova (Bul) v (22) Amanda Anisimova (USA)
(15) Felix Auger-Aliassime (Can) v Thiago Moura Monteiro (Bra)
Leonardo Mayer (Arg) v (25) Milos Raonic (Can)
(26) Sloane Stephens (USA) v Mihaela Buzarnescu (Rom)
(6) Matteo Berrettini (Ita) v Go Soeda (Jpn)
Only Double Vaccinated Players Will Be Allowed To Play Australian Open – Government Minister
Players will not be exempt from a ‘universal application’ applied to those wishing to travel to the country.
A high ranking official from the Australian government has confirmed for the first time that players will not be allowed to enter the country next year if they have not been double vaccinated against COVID-19.
Immigration minister Alex Hawke has stated that there will be no exemptions in force for tennis players hoping to play in the Australian Open amid recent speculation. According to Andrey Rublev, he had been told that unvaccinated players could be allowed to play but will have to enter into a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. However, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Monday that it was unlikely visas would be issued to those who are unvaccinated.
Trying to clarify the current situation, Hawke has told ABC radio that all entrants into the country will be required to be vaccinated regardless of who they are. His comments come before Tennis Australia has made any official announcement regarding the tournament and it’s entry requirements.
“The government in establishing its borders has said that you’ll need to be double vaccinated to visit Australia. That’s a universal application, not just to tennis players. I mean that every visitor to Australia will need to be double vaccinated,” Hawke said on ABC radio.
The move raises further questions about the prospect of Novak Djokovic being able to attend the Australian Open. The 20-time Grand Slam champion recently said he doesn’t want to reveal his vaccination status to the public. In the past he said he was against the idea of being forced to have a vaccination but rejects allegations that he is an anti-vaxxer.
“I don’t have a message to Novak. I have a message to everybody that wishes to visit Australia. He’ll need to be double vaccinated,” Hawke later added.
Unlike other sports, tennis’ governing bodies have not issued any public statements outlining the vaccination rates among players on their Tour’s. Reuters news agency estimates the vaccination rate is 65% for the ATP and 60% for the WTA based on recent media reports. However, The Age newspaper reports those who are double vaccinated are below half with 35% for the ATP and 40% for the WTA.
As for the suggestion that players who had already contracted COVID-19 should be allowed into the country regardless of their vaccine status, the president of the Victorian Australian Medical Association has dismissed the idea.
“I understand he [Djokovic] had it [coronavirus] but, believe it or not, the immunity from the vaccination is better than the immunity from catching the disease,” Dr Roderick McRae told The Age.
“I think there is an element of standards [here]. It’s important our leaders make these decisions in our interests and it [banning unvaccinated travellers] demonstrates to the community just how important we take this.”
The Australian Open will begin on January 17th. Djokovic and Naomi Osaka are the reigning champions.
Victorian Premier: Unvaccinated Players Likely To Be Refused Visas To Play Australian Open
The government official has issued a warning ahead of the Grand Slam but one player say they have been told something different…
The head of the Victorian Government has said there is a good chance that any player who is unvaccinated will be refused entry into Australia next year and be excluded from the Australian Open.
Daniel Andrews has insisted that no deals will be cut with the players where they could receive special treatment in order for them to enter the region. Recently local officials implemented a health mandate in Victoria requiring essential workers to be vaccinated, including professional athletes. The move has prompted speculation over the implications that will have on the upcoming Australian Open which will get underway in January.
Andrews, who has been the Premier of Victoria since 2014, will not be the person who has the final say as to if unvaccinated players will be allowed to enter the country. That will be decided by the national government. However, in a press conference on Tuesday he cast serious doubt over their chances.
“I don’t think an unvaccinated tennis player is going to get a visa to come into this country,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
“If they did get a visa, they’d probably have to quarantine for a couple of weeks when no other players will have to.
“AFL players have to be vaccinated, but they’re Aussies, they’re not coming from other countries.
“I don’t think any other tennis player, or golfer, or Formula One driver, will even get a visa to get here.
“Professional sport is part of that authorised worker list and they have to be double dose vaccinated.”
The warning comes less than 24 hours after Blic newspaper published an interview with world No.1 Novak Djokovic who admits he is unsure about playing at the tennis major. Djokovic declined to reveal his vaccination status and has accused the media of causing a divide between vaccinated and unvaccinated people. He has won the Australian Open men‘s title a record nine times.
“I won’t disclose whether I am vaccinated or not. It is a private matter, I think it is inappropriate to ask a person that. Too many people allow themselves the freedom to ask and then to judge. Whatever you say – I have, I have not, maybe, I do not know or I am thinking about it – they will use it against you,” he said.
Tennis Australia has not commented on Andrews’ statement and it is unclear as to when a final decision will be made. Although Djokovic believes a final decision could come in two weeks time.
Meanwhile, Andrey Rublev has contradicted what Andrews has said during a press conference in Moscow. Speaking to reporters the Russian says it is his understanding that unvaccinated players will be allowed to play the Australian Open but they will be forced to enter into a 14-day quarantine. Meaning they will miss tournaments such as the ATP Cup leading up to the Grand Slam.
“If athletes do not want to stay in quarantine for two weeks, then they must be vaccinated. As far as I know, Australians recognize many vaccines. If you do not get vaccinated, then you will not be able to leave the room for two weeks. Then you won’t be able to play either the ATP Cup or the tournaments before the Australian Open.” Said Rublev.
Besides the players, local fans attending the Australian Open could also be refused entry if they are unvaccinated and their freedoms won’t be relaxed until ‘well into 2022.’ Andrews said he doubts crowds at the Australian Grand Prix, which takes place three months after the Melbourne major, will not include those are are not double jabbed.
“Why would you get the system going, have the thing up and running and then essentially pull down all of the architecture that you’ve built, the culture that you’ve changed – why would you change that four or five weeks later?” He said.
“For example, the Grand Prix is in April, I don’t think there will be crowds at the Grand Prix made up of people who have not been double dosed.”
The Australian Open is set to get underway on January 17th.
Grand Slam Matches Among 38 Suspicious Betting Alerts Over Past Three Months
The body is charge of monitoring match-fixing in the sport has issued their latest findings.
The International Tennis Integrity Agency has confirmed they have received ‘match alerts’ concerning a quartet of matches which took place at Grand Slam tournaments during the third quarter of 2021.
Two matches played at Wimbledon and a further two which took place at the US Open were flagged up, according to their quarterly report which was public on Tuesday. The names of the individuals involved in those matches are not made public whilst the ITIA investigate the matter. The alerts are received through their confidential Memoranda of Understanding with the regulated betting industry.
A total of 38 betting alerts were issued to the ITIA during the third quarter with the most coming from matches played on the Challenger Tour (13). There were also nine suspicious matches from ITF $25,000 tournaments on the men’s Tour and another seven linked to $15,000 events. To put that into context the women’s ITF Tour reported a total of three overall.
“It is important to note that an alert on its own is not evidence of match fixing,” the ITIA stated in their report.
“Unusual betting patterns can occur for many reasons other than match fixing – for example incorrect odds-setting; well-informed betting; player fitness, fatigue or form; playing conditions and personal circumstances.”
Five players have been sanctioned within the past three months for match-fixing offences with the most high-profile being Temur Ismailov from Uzbekistan. Ismailov, who reached a ranking high of 397th in 2016, was issued with a life ban after being found guilty of offences in addition to another suspension he was already serving.
The ITIA has also provisionally suspended six Moroccans and one Pervian player in connection with possible violations of anti-corruption rules.
The ITIA was created by the international governing bodies to investigate allegations against players and hand out sanctions. It is currently in the process of merging with the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (TADP) and will oversee the global administration of the TADP from January 1st if it receives Board approval.
Number of alerts (third quarter of 2021 only)
- Wimbledon: 2
- US Open: 2
- ATP Challenger: 13
- ATP World Tour: 250 1
- Davis Cup: 1
- M25 Men’s – World Tennis Tour: 9
- M15 Men’s – World Tennis Tour: 7
- W15 Women’s – World Tennis Tour: 2
- W80 Women’s – World Tennis Tour: 1
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REPORT: Unvaccinated Players Set To Be Banned From Playing Australian Open
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