The Australian Open gets underway on Monday in Melbourne, as the first tennis Grand Slam of 2021 defies the global Covid-19 pandemic Down Under.
World number one and reigning men’s champion Novak Djokovic has a first round clash with Jeremy Chardy, while the women’s draw sees top ranked Ashleigh Barty open her bid for glory on home turf against Danka Kovinic.
It comes as a relief to players, officials and fans as the attention finally turns away from coronavirus quarantines, restrictions and protocols, and on to the courts at Melbourne Park.
Dominic Thiem, beaten by Djokovic in last year’s final, opens his tournament against Mikhail Kukushkin, while Rafael Nadal tackles Serbian Laslo Djere.
Serena Williams is seeded tenth in the women’s draw and has Laura Siegemund in her sights at the first hurdle, with defending champion Sofia Kenin going up against wildcard Maddison Inglis.
The first round draw has also thrown up an all-British affair, as Dan Evans and Cameron Norrie face off in the absence of Andy Murray and Kyle Edmund.
Nick Kyrgios is unseeded following a fallow 2020, but the Australian has been drawn with qualifier Frederico Ferreira Silva at the first stage of the tournament, with a clash against Thiem potentially lurking in round three.
Iga Swiatek, the teenage winner of the French Open, kicks off her competition against Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands, while Venus Williams plays fellow veteran Kirsten Flipkens.
Doubts were raised ahead of the tournament when an employee at one of the quarantine hotels tested positive for the virus, but organisers are confident of the event going ahead without a hitch in a city that has rid itself of Covid-19 transmission in recent weeks.
There are even set to be fans in the stands by the Yarra River, as international sport steps up its bid to return to some sort of normal with the first Grand Slam of the season.
Prediction methodology explained😕The expected win percentage is based off publicly available odds. For example, if a team’s odds are 2.30, the expected chance of winning is 43%. If the odds are 1.62 the expected chance of winning is 62% and so on. These are accurate at the time of writing but are subject to change. Where there is no value listed, the odds were not available at the time of writing.
Due to the large number of matches in the early stages of the tournament, these graphics provided in a gallery format below to make it easier to scroll through. There are likely to be some omissions in the graphic predictions if the statistics were not available at the time of writing.
Australia Open predictions: Women’s singles, Day One
Australia Open predictions: Men’s singles, Day One
Predictions for day two will be published after the conclusion of the final match on the first day.