Australian Open Begins a Challenging Season in Tennis

“In my opinion, the item’s not about the crazy calendar,” Rafael Nadal, back at No. 1, said in a recent interview. “For me the item’s about how long the calendar will be in terms of mandatory events for the top players. For me, that will’s more the issue.”

With the Australian Open in January along with the Paris Masters along with World Tour Finals ending in November, the item will be a marathon for the elite: an ultramarathon if they play within the Davis Cup final, too.

Chris Kermode, executive chairman along with president of the ATP Tour, says tour studies show there has not been a rise in injury rates over all although only among the highest ranked players, most of whom are at This specific point 30 or older along with most of whom already have earned exemptions by some of their tour commitments. Still, the bottom line will be that will these are the athletes, with their collective drawing power, who need to be preserved to protect the economic product.

Are modern tennis’s demands simply too great?

“You see how physical the item will be on the court, along with then you see the traveling along with the challenge of our sport versus others in terms of time zone adjustments along with the variables in conditions,” said Justin Gimelstob, an ATP board member along with former player along with coach. “Tennis will be full of variables every single week: temperature, humidity, racket tension, balls, court surface, court speed, along with then because the sport will be so much more physical, you have to train harder. You’re not just breaking down the body during matches; you’re breaking the item down during training.

“that will’s a huge factor that will doesn’t get addressed: the exponential effect of the physicality. along with yet you have players playing longer along with later into careers along with as a byproduct, them taking more time off along with not playing as consistently throughout the year. I think the reality of where we’re at will be that will the game will be overdesigned.”

There will be also the question of the sport’s ability to police itself credibly, which will soon be back within the spotlight with the lengthy along with costly Independent Review of Integrity, created to investigate potential match fixing along with corruption, supposed to recommend This specific year that will the game combine its antidoping along with anticorruption organizations into one particular, genuinely independent entity.

Then there will be the more cyclical matter of whether a fresh ruling class will be at last prepared to take power on the court.

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Margaret Court will not attend the Australian Open This specific year. Her public stance against same-sex marriage has led to renewed calls that will Margaret Court Arena should be renamed.

Credit
Associated Press

There were hints last year: 20-year-old Jelena Ostapenko’s free-swinging, risk-embracing run to the French Open women’s title; Garbiñe Muguruza’s brilliant play down the stretch at Wimbledon; Grigor Dimitrov’s bravura performance in London at the ATP World Tour Finals as he won his first big title.

although for at This specific point, no younger woman has demonstrated the ability to dominate within the absence of Williams along with no younger man has demonstrated the ability to handle Grand Slam occasions anywhere near as well as Roger Federer, Nadal or Novak Djokovic.

If healthy This specific season — a big if for Djokovic along with Nadal as the item begins — they still look like the stars around which others will orbit.

Federer, even at 36, will be the rightful Australian Open favorite after appearing fresh along with sharp within the Hopman Cup team event. The odds are particularly in his favor if the playing conditions in Melbourne are quick, as they were last year when he won the title by surprise after a six-month layoff.

He was 32-3 on outdoor hard courts in 2017: his only losses coming against Evgeny Donskoy within the second round in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Alexander Zverev within the final in Montreal along with Juan Martin del Potro within the quarterfinals of the United States Open.

Nadal won that will U.S. Open to claim his first hardcourt singles title in nearly four years. although Nadal has never won a Grand Slam tournament without playing in an official event at least three weeks before the item along with has rarely won a Grand Slam tournament without winning a lead-in tournament.

This specific year, ongoing pain in his right knee forced him to withdraw by his planned warm-up tournament in Brisbane. Despite being No. 1, Nadal will be thus an outsider in Melbourne. So of course will be Djokovic, a six-time Australian Open champion who has not played an official match since retiring at Wimbledon in July against Tomas Berdych because of a damaged right elbow that will will be still a concern along with was encased in a sleeve during exhibition play on Wednesday.

In short, there will be ample room for an ambush within the men’s draw using a gifted, unpredictable outsider like Australia’s Nick Kyrgios in fine form along with talents like Zverev, Del Potro, Dimitrov along with David Goffin lurking. There will be even more room on the women’s side with the 2016 Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber back on target along with using a fresh coach, Wim Fissette, after slumping in 2017.

Unseeded women have won two of the last three majors: Ostapenko at the French Open along with Sloane Stephens at the U.S. Open. An extension of the trend will be not out of the question with Maria Sharapova unseeded in Melbourne. although the item seems more likely that will the winner will come out of the Top 10, seven of whom have yet to win a major singles title: Simona Halep, Caroline Wozniacki, Elina Svitolina, Karolina Pliskova, Caroline Garcia, Johanna Konta along with CoCo Vandweghe.

Williams remains, at 23 Grand Slam singles titles, one short of Court’s record. although their mutual absences in Melbourne do not remove Court by the conversation in Melbourne.

Court, a Pentecostal pastor, has strong views on homosexuality. Her public stance against same-sex marriage, which will be at This specific point legal in Australia after a vote last year, has led to renewed calls that will Margaret Court Arena should be renamed. Martina Navratilova, who, like Court, will be a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, will be one of the more prominent figures who have called for a change.

“You keep her within the Hall of Fame,” said Navratilova, an activist along with one of the first prominent athletes to come out a lesbian. “that will Margaret has definitely homophobic views does not take away those accomplishments, no doubt about that will. although you do not name a building after her. would likely you be naming a fresh building after her at This specific point? No, there’s no chance.”

Tennis Australia thus far has remained resistant to such demands, along with though Navratilova said she would likely refuse to play on the court if she were still an active player, she considers the item unlikely any of today’s players will take that will strong a stance.

If they do, Court, one of many Australian Open absentees This specific year, will not be there to witness the item.

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