This year’s summer of tennis is like no other. Players will need to adapt and overcome an extensive number of unique challenges in order to be successful at Melbourne Park in 2021. No one knows for sure what is going to happen this summer, but after thorough review, here are my top predications for the Australian Open.
There will be a Russian in the Men’s Singles Final
Whether it be Daniil Medvedev or Andrey Rublev, one of the two will make it to the final. World No. 4, Medvedev, is a ruthless competitor eyeing off his first Grand Slam. After winning the 2020 Nitto ATP Finals and making the U.S. Open Final in 2019, the Russian superstar has what it takes to carry him all the way to the business end of the tournament. With his victory at the ATP Finals last year, the 24-year-old became the first player to have defeated the world's top three players in any ATP Finals competition. The merciless Russian has the skill to go all the way and is one of the strongest competitors mentally on the tour. On the other hand, World No. 8 Andrey Rublev is coming off a career best year. The 23-year-old made the ATP finals, the U.S. and French Open quarterfinals, and world top 8 in 2020. After a year like that, the Moscow native will look to continue his fine form at Melbourne Park. Rublev loves hardcourts, so the Australian Open will suit him perfectly. Simply put, either Medvedev or Rublev will make the final.
Ash Barty will not make the Second Week of Singles
It is not the news Australians want to hear, but World No. 1 Barty hasn’t played tennis in 11 months. She has just announced she will play ‘A Day at the Drive’ in Adelaide, as well as a WTA 500 event before the Australian Open, but the question remains if she will have enough match play to make her fit enough and ready to win it all in Melbourne. The 24-year-old does have an advantage as she didn’t have to quarantine like her fellow counterparts, but 11 months of no tennis is a long time. Barty is undoubtedly a well-oiled machine, but the problem is the machine hasn’t had any oil in a while. Good on Barty for doing her own thing last year and not playing when she didn’t feel comfortable, but she might now struggle to regain form.
King Kyrgios will Look Like He Hasn’t Missed a Beat
The difference between Ash Barty and World No. 47 Nick Kyrgios is the fact that Nick is used to playing with limited practice. Kyrgios has openly admitted he lacks the dedication and drive to be successful on the ATP tour. Accustomed to playing with no coach and having a ‘unique’ practice schedule, Kyrgios will be able to pick up his racquet and play like normal in 2021. Moreover, the 25-year-old hates travelling and leaving his family in Canberra, so maybe a significant amount of time off will have given Kyrgios the motivation he needs to win. A lot of players wouldn’t want to draw the World No. 47 in the first round.
Back-to-Back Grand Slams for Osaka
The last time that World No. 3 Naomi Osaka won the U.S. Open she then went on to claim the title in Australia. Can she do it again? The 23-year-old has the luxury of quarantining in Adelaide, meaning she can practice for five hours a day. The Japanese star loves the hard courts at Melbourne Park as it suits her game. Osaka hasn’t played any tennis since claiming the title in New York, but that shouldn’t affect her. If she can take home the trophy in Australia, the current World No. 3 could propel herself back to World No. 1- depending on other results. She will also be looking for redemption from last year’s disappointing showing. Osaka is the one to beat this year.
An Australian Doubles Champion
Historically speaking, the doubles side of things is where Australians have found success at Melbourne Park. Sam Stosur won in 2019, John Peers won in 2017, Max Purcell and Luke Saville made it to the final in 2020, all highlighting the great success of the Aussies. Barty knows her way around the doubles court and so does Matt Reid. As of December 30th, 2020, 11 Aussies have formally announced they will be competing in doubles events. Many of the Aussies haven’t been required to quarantine and will be ready to pounce in their own backyard. We have had success in previous years, and we will have success again. The doubles pairs can be found below.
Ash Barty (Qld) / Jennifer Brady (USA)
John Peers (Vic) / Michael Venus (NZL)
Sam Stosur (Qld) / Shuai Zhang (CHN)
Max Purcell (NSW) / Luke Saville (SA)
Ajla Tomljanovic (Qld) / Alison Riske (USA)
Alex de Minaur (NSW) / Matt Reid (NSW)
Arina Rodionova (Vic) / Storm Sanders (WA)
John Millman (Qld) / Thiago Monteiro (BRA)