Ser­ena, Nadal and Mur­ray all con­firmed for Aus­tralian Open

Gulf Times Sport - - SPORT -

Ser­ena Wil­liams will make her re­turn to the Aus­tralian Open for the first time since win­ning in 2017 when eight-weeks preg­nant, it was con­firmed yes­ter­day, with vir­tu­ally all the world’s top 100 play­ers due at Mel­bourne Park.

That in­cludes in­jury-prone Rafael Nadal and Andy Mur­ray.

Wil­liams re­turned from giv­ing birth to her first child to reach the 2018 Wim­ble­don and US Open fi­nals, but suf­fered upset losses in both to leave her stuck on 23 ma­jor wins.

Aus­tralian Open or­gan­is­ers said she was among the en­tries for the open­ing Grand Slam of the year as she at­tempts to equal Mar­garet Court’s record of 24.

Her ap­pear­ance will mark her first ma­jor since her con­tro­ver­sial rant at an um­pire dur­ing the US Open fi­nal loss to Naomi Osaka, which over­shad­owed the Ja­panese star’s big­gest ever win.

In the af­ter­math, Roger Fed­erer said Wil­liams “went too far”.

“Ser­ena Wil­liams, cur­rently ranked 16, will make her highly an­tic­i­pated re­turn to Mel­bourne for the first time since win­ning in 2017 when eightweeks preg­nant with baby Alexis Olympia,” said tour­na­ment or­gan­iser Craig Ti­ley.

The ev­er­green Fed­erer will be back to de­fend his ti­tle, along with long-time ad­ver­sary No­vak Djokovic. Caro­line Woz­ni­acki de­fends the women’s crown.

Or­gan­is­ers said the world’s top 102 women and top 101 men have all con­firmed they will be play­ing.

The only top-100 ab­sen­tee from the women’s draw is 74th-ranked Ag­nieszka Rad­wan­ska of Poland­who re­cently an­nounced her re­tire­ment.

“It’s al­ways spe­cial to see our de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons – Caro­line had her first Grand Slam win here last year so will be keen to start 2019 on a high,” said Ti­ley.

“And of course Roger Fed­erer has spe­cial mem­o­ries of Mel­bourne, hav­ing won here six times, some­thing only No­vak (Djokovic) and Roy Emer­son have done in the past.

“I’ve been in touch with Rafa and he’s back to full fit­ness after cut­ting his sea­son short after Paris and can’t wait to ar­rive in Aus­tralia,” he added.

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