The courts at Melbourne Park will be packed with tennis fans on Monday, as the 2018 Australian Open Championship gets underway. However, news websites have been full of doom and gloom about the number of players who are injured or unable to take part. So which players are competing for the title and who will be forced to stay at home? Will the first Grand Slam of the year be one to watch or to miss?
The Australian Open – Which Leading Players Are Out of Action?
Many of the sport’s biggest names have either already withdrawn from the tournament or are suffering from injuries that could hamper their performance. Last week, news.com.au even suggested that tennis fans might want to “think twice about buying tickets” to the event.
The news that Andy Murray won’t be competing for the men’s singles title, opting to undergo hip surgery instead, came as a blow for British tennis fans. Many of them were hoping that the Scot would be able to claim the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup for the first time in his career.
Murray isn’t the only big name to have withdrawn from the tournament. Neither Kei Nishikori, Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka or Svetlana Kuznetsova will be battling for the Open’s glittering tennis trophies this year.
A host of other players are also facing fitness doubts. Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Jack Sock, Stan Wrawrinka, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, John Isner, Nick Kyrgios and Caroline Garcia have all been nursing injuries recently.
The Brits Still in the Mix for This Year’s Tournament
Johanna Konta, the British number one, will be competing in the women’s singles competition, but she hasn’t had the best start to 2018. A hip injury forced her to retire during her quarter-final tie against Elina Svitolina in the Brisbane International at the beginning of the month and, although she was able to play in the Sydney International last week, Agnieszka Radwańska defeated her in the opening round. Ninth seed Konta is set to take on Madison Brengle in her first match.
Heather Watson, the British number two, will also be competing and is scheduled to play Yulia Putintseva in the first round. At the time of writing, Naomi Broady was still in the running to gain a place in the Grand Slam too.
The only Brit left in the men’s singles draw is Kyle Edmund. His first-round tie will be a tough one. Not only has Edmund been troubled by an ankle injury recently, he’ll be taking on Kevin Anderson, who is seeded eleventh.
Could the 2018 Championship Still Be One to Remember?
Although some of the sport’s stars will be missing or could struggle to reach the later rounds, there’s still plenty of stunning tennis to look forward to. There are many other big names in the singles’ draws, including Roger Federer, Marin Čilić, Dominic Thiem, Simona Halep, Venus Williams and Karolina Plíšková.
What’s more, should the absence of a few famous names really be something to worry about? As players like Federer edge closer to retirement, should we be excited that the stars of the future will be given an extra chance to shine?
Do you think this year’s Australian Open will be a thriller or a disappointment? Who do you think will claim the trophies? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter, Facebook or by leaving a comment below.