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December 3, 2021
SPORTS

Tennis: Start of the first Grand Slam tournament of the year

Australian Open, the first Grand Slam tournament of the year starts today with Maria Sharapova, the 2008 women’s champion and a finalist last year, to open proceedings on Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne in the day session against Russia’s Olga Puchkova, while defending men’s champion and top seed Novak Djokovic will take on Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu in the final match of the day session, australianopen.com reports.In the second match of the night session, women’s 13th seed Ana Ivanovic will start her AO 2013 campaign against Hungary’s Melinda Czink.Venus Williams will open matches on Hisense Arena when she plays Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan in her first round match, while men’s 22nd seed Fernando Verdasco, Australian teen Ash Barty and men’s fourth seed David Ferrer also feature on the Hisense Arena schedule.Women’s sixth seed Li Na of China, Australian women Bojana Bobusic (who plays fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska) and Casey Dellacqua, compatriot Matthew Ebden and Australian Open 2006 finalist Marcos Baghdatis will all feature on Margaret Court Arena on the opening day of the tournament.Bad luck at draws for Romanian players: in the women’s tournament Monica Niculescu will take Victoria Azarenka (1) while Edina Gallovits-Hall will play against Serena Williams (3). In the men’s tournament Victor Hanescu will play Kei Nishikori (18) and Adrian Ungur against Evgheny Donskoy (83).Men tournament’s favourite is Serbian Novak Djokovic. Should Djokovic lift the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup in two weeks’ time, not only will he remain No.1, he will also become the first player in the Open era to win three consecutive Australian Open titles.It’s a feat that has been achieved at the other three majors on multiple occasions but, surprisingly, not in Melbourne. Djokovic is one of nine players to win two Australian Open titles in a row. Over the next fortnight he has the opportunity to go one step further than the other eight.“From my personal experience, I like playing here because it’s after probably five, six, seven weeks of break with no official tournament,” Djokovic said. “So you get time to recover, regroup, recharge your batteries mentally, physically, try to get ready for the new season with four, five weeks of good practice. You come here fresh. You’re motivated and inspired to play some good tennis.”The Serbian superstar looks relaxed. Facing a packed media room at Melbourne Park on Saturday just minutes after entertaining 15,000 people as part of Kids Tennis Day he took questions and replies as fluently and as his return of serve.

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