Novak Djokovic is welcome at Australian Open, says tournament director; Russian and Belarusian players can compete but not in top positions
The world’s best tennis players are on their way to Melbourne, with Novak Djokovic’s victory over David Ferrer a huge deal for the sport.
There are 16 seeded men competing at the first grand slam of the season this week, including two of three top seeds, including the two No1 seeds, along with the No2 and No3 seeds.
The men’s draw is dominated by hard courts, with the exception of the first and third rounds, where grass gets the lion’s share of attention.
The women’s competition is a real head-scratcher for the best players in the world when the first seeded women’s player to make it to a fourth round is the 23-year-old No1, Madison Keys.
A few tournaments later it is the No15 seed, Simona Halep, the first woman to appear among the 16 players in a major tournament in more than a decade.
The women’s draw, with its many seeds, includes a number of favourites, but few have been top seeds in either of the past two years.
Key to Djokovic’s victory over Ferrer was his victory over the Argentine at the French Open last month, which put him back on top of the calendar for a second time.
His victory over Ferrer, Djokovic’s first back at the French Open since 2012, was the latest in a long line of victories over the Argentinian during his career, which has included two major titles and two Grand Slams.
The 29-year-old, who is No1 in the ATP world rankings, is the world’s top-ranked male singles player, but he has never beaten Ferrer at the biggest stage of the sport.
Ferrer will also become only the seventh man to make the final when he faces the 17-time grand slam winner, Stan Wawrinka, in the final of the Melbourne Open on Sunday.
What’s more, Djokovic, Ferrer and the other 16 players are all guaranteed to play in the final four and the fifth quarter of the $100m event, a major step up