MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A glance at the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam tennis tournament of 2022:
The tournament begins Monday morning in Australia (Sunday evening EST). The women’s singles final is Jan. 29 and the men’s singles final is Jan. 30; both are to begin at about 7:30 p.m. local time in Melbourne (3:30 a.m. EST). Like at the U.S. Open, there are separate day and night sessions. The tournament is being played in its regular spot on the calendar after beginning three weeks late last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ash Barty is seeded No. 1 in the women’s draw; Novak Djokovic is seeded No. 1 in the men’s draw. The seedings follow the WTA and ATP rankings.
2021 WOMEN’S SINGLES CHAMPION
Naomi Osaka, Japan
2021 MEN’S SINGLES CHAMPION
Novak Djokovic, Serbia
Osaka improved to 4-0 in Grand Slam finals by winning six consecutive games to pull away in what initially was a tight contest, beating Jennifer Brady 6-4, 6-3. With serves that reached 122 mph (197 kph) and produced six aces, and service returns that helped create six breaks, Osaka became the first woman in 30 years to win her first four finals at Grand Slam tournaments. Brady had to go through a hard quarantine for 15 days when she arrived in Australia because someone on her flight tested positive for COVID-19. Djokovic relied on his relentless returning and baseline excellence to grab 11 of 13 games in one stretch and beat Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 for a third consecutive Australian Open trophy and his record ninth overall.
WHO IS MISSING
Six-time Australian Open champion Roger Federer is out as he continues his long recovery from right knee surgery. Dominic Thiem, who lost to Djokovic in the 2020 final, is out with a right wrist injury. Former champion Stan Wawrinka is out following foot surgery and Milos Raonic will miss the Australian Open for the first time since 2011 because of an Achilles injury. On the women’s side, the 2022 Australian Open will be the first since 1997 that the tournament will not include either of the Williams sisters. Serena is out with a hamstring injury and Venus hasn’t played since August due to a leg injury. Other absentees include Brady, who has a left foot injury, Karolina Pliskova (right hand injury) and 2019 U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu, who said she would be taking time away from the sport to address mental health concerns.
1978 — The last time an Australian woman won the Australian Open singles title (Chris O’Neill). Two-time major champion Barty wants to end that streak, although she’ll possibly meet defending champion Osaka in the fourth round. Barty is coming off a win in the Adelaide International this month, beating Coco Gauff, 2020 Australian Open champion Sofin Kenin and 2020 French Open winner Iga Swiatek en route to her 14th WTA title.
Total: 75 million Australian dollars ($54.6 million). Singles winners each take home 4.4 million Australian dollars (about $3.15 million.)
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