5 questions that will be answered by the end of 2021 Australian Open
The 2021 tennis action has finally commenced in the form of Australian Open taking place in Melbourne.
Despite the hardships caused by COVID-19, the stringent quarantine routine, and the inhibition to enjoy the geographic conditions of the country, players would be pleased to prove themselves back on the court in front of a considerable amount of people.
Taking all of this into account, Sportco presents five questions whose answers will be discovered as the tournament progresses.
Will Serena make it No.24?
Serena Williams will be eyeing her 24th Grand Slam singles title. Currently trailing Margaret Court by just one major championship, Williams would want to avoid the mistakes she's fallen to in her recent appearances.
The 39-year-old has lost in straight sets in each of the last four Grand Slam final appearances. She is a player who doesn't shy away from accepting her discrepancies, one of the examples being Williams calling her game "inexcusable" after losing to Bianca Andreescu in the 2019 US Open final.
Hopefully, she'll come out with flying colors in the very way she's done it in the past.
Will Roger Federer and his record avoid the inevitable?
Another legend is on the brink of extraordinary achievement. Rafael Nadal has the opportunity to surpass Roger Federer for the most Grand Slam singles titles by a male player if he manages to win in Melbourne.
With his lone Australian Open Slam win coming in 2009, the clay-court expert would want to achieve this accolade on a hard court, where he's managed 22 of his 86 career singles titles.
The World No. 2 has made it to the Australian Open last eight in 12 of his last 13 appearances and despite some injury concerns, the Spaniard is expected to not let go.
How will Djokovic fare?
Well, no male player has had more glory in this tournament than Novak Djokovic. The current world no. 1 has a record eight men's singles title and is in pursuit of his second three-peat.
Djokovic has claimed victory in 90% of his games at the season's first major and has been knocked out before the fourth round only once in his last 14 displays.
He would hope that he avoids yet another disqualification perhaps trying to curb his emotions on the court.
How will COVID-19 affect the competition?
Being the only Grand Slam unaffected by the pandemic last year, we are yet not over this whole scenario completely. The major was already delayed by three weeks from the scheduled date, hoping that would permit players to travel and quarantine both.
However, all the precautions taken could not avoid a worker at one of the allotted tournament hotels to test positive, leading to players undergoing mandatory self-isolation.
In case of a member of a player's circle contracts the virus or the players themselves fall prey to it then anything could be possible considering the measures the country has taken to get rid of the virus.
Will Ashleigh Barty and Bianca Andreescu reinforce their dominance?
The world no. 1 Ashleigh Barty did not have the best of welcomes as she faced defeat in an exhibition game against two-time major champion Simona Halep (3-6, 6-1, 10-8).
After more than 42 years since a local managed to claim the Australian Open, all eyes are looking upon Barty. She was the first Australian woman to enter the Happy Slam atop the WTA rankings and managed to make it to the semi-finals.
On the other hand, things weren't smooth for the Canadian either as Andreescu did not have any warm-up games ahead of the season's first Grand Slam. The Canadian had withdrawn from the Grampians Trophy and has been out of action since 2019 when she suffered a knee injury in the group stages of the 2019 WTA finals.
The 20-year-old has always been one of the fighters and her experiences in the past have always led to stronger comebacks. The 2019 Rogers Cup title witnessed the Canadian beating the likes of Serena Williams, Sofia Kenin, Karolina Pliskova, and Kiki Bertens before she succumbed to a shoulder injury that sidelined her for almost half a year.
However, we all know that Andreescu is very well capable of returning with promise and it will be interesting to see how she fares to this challenge.