By George Ramsay – Given the detailed warm-up tournaments, the main draw of the Australian Open is now being considered, the build-up of which was dominated by coronavirus precautions.
An optimistic review for an employee in the lodge’s quarantine earlier this week resulted in the game being suspended and between 500 and 600 players, officers and helpers being forced into isolation. Every participant has since screened for the virus inappropriately.
When the Australian Open kicks off on Monday, two players can take a look at the historic past: Serena Williams will continue her quest to equate Margaret Court’s document with 24 Grand Slam titles, while Rafael Nadal could surpass Federer’s record of 20.
Neither of them loved an easy entry into the primary Grand Slam of the year.
Nadal pulled out of the ATP Cup earlier this week with a sharp drop, while Williams was forced out of her semifinals at the Yarra Valley Classic with reasonable shoulder damage. She also admitted that the later Melbourne start date enabled her to get better from an Achilles disadvantage.
Serena Williams at the 2020 Australian Open. She reached the third ball and went to Wang Qiang. (Getty)
The final year marked the first time since 2006 that Williams had spent an entire year without reaching a remaining Grand Slam. Since her last main win at the Australian Open 2017, she has finished second in 4 events.
“Four years without a Grand Slam is long, even more for Serena than for many players, and we are definitely not happy with the situation,” Williams’ manager Patrick Mouratoglou advised CNN’s Christina Macfarlane late last year.
“We expected better results, but the situation was new too and I’m talking about becoming a mother and the consequences of that.
“Physically it was a struggle to come back. It took time, more time than in all probability what we expected, including mentally. It’s a brand new persistence to discover. “
Williams was pregnant with their daughter Olympia when she won her 23rd and final Grand Slam title in Melbourne. Motherhood, Mouratoglou says, has allowed Williams to rethink her priorities, noting that her desire to win victories remains on fire as she grapples with injuries.
“Serena’s dream has been to win Grand Slams since she was a child,” he says.
“She has dedicated her entire life to successful Grand Slams. She came to a court document every day of her life and gave everything for it. And that is most likely the challenge of a lifetime. And it is anyway. She still has the feeling that she will win.
“Of course there are still things missing. Otherwise she would have won … But when you’re in the final, you touch it, you’re so close, you want to make it. That drives them. “
Williams will face world number 51, Laura Siegemund, in the first round after being positioned in the same half of the draw as some of the Grand Slam champions Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka.
World number 1 and residential favorite Ashleigh Barty will lead the draw, while Sofia Kenin will try to defend her first Grand Slam title.
Ash Barty for all of her remaining Yarra Valley Classic win. (Getty)
In the boys’ draw, Novak Djokovic is the agency’s favorite and hopes to add eight Australian Open titles to his document.
The 17-time Grand Slam winner has emerged as the winner in 5 of his last 9 Grand Slam tournaments and is another profitable year 2020.
Other competitors are Dominic Thiem, who won his first major title at the US Open, the ATP final winner Daniil Medvedev and of course Nadal, whose only victory in Melbourne in 2009 was here.
Djokovic is in the same half of the draw as Thiem and US Open runner-up Alexander Zverev, while Nadal could face tough challenges from Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas or Andrey Rublev.
When asked about the prospect of beating Federer’s document, the Spaniard remained measured.
“I’ve done a lot more than I’ve ever dreamed of in my tennis career,” instructed Nadal last week from CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
“It would be great for me to win another one. But I know that this will not be the key to my happiness in the future. It’s not an added pressure or an obsession.
“I’ll go ahead and do it with my resources. When it happens, amazing, but when it doesn’t, I am more excited than anything that has crossed my mind. “
Rafael Nadal defeated Roger Federer 7-5 3-6 7-6 (7-3) 3-6 6-2 in the finals of the 2009 Australian Open. (Getty)
Up to 30,000 fans are allowed into Melbourne Park every day as Australia has successfully fought viruses with strict border controls and strict bans.
The sight of maskless crowds packed into the warm-up games at the Australian Open was a baffling sight for sports fans who are used to seeing few, if any, spectators at major events.
The Victoria State Health Department announced Friday that it had not registered any local cases of COVID-19 from 14,612 tests.
The positive test for a hotel employee interrupted a 28-day run with no community coverage in Victoria.
Strict quarantine measures sparked controversy when the players arrived in Melbourne. Some were locked in their hotel rooms for two weeks after testing positive on their flights, while others were allowed out of their rooms for five hours a day to exercise in bio-safe bladders.
The organizers then changed the warm-up schedule to support the 72 players who are under tough quarantine – some of whom went straight to practice once their quarantine period was up. “00:54 AM – FINALLY FREE from 15 days in strict quarantine and of course my first stop is to watch Rod Laver Arena for midnight! “British player Heather Watson wrote on social media.
“I don’t really feel like spending another night in a lodge room, so I feel like I’d just sleep here tonight,” she wrote in a separate article.
After a lengthy buildup, seeing the most important draws that started last will no longer be a question for players and organizers alike.
* This story originally appeared on CNN and was reproduced with permission