The Djokovic visa controversy seems to have marred the run-up to the Australian Open

The favourites for the men’s title are thus Daniil Medvedev, the World No.2 and reigning US Open champion, and the third-ranked German Alexander Zverev, Olympic gold-medallist and the ATP Tour Finals winner last year. Closely following them are Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini and French Open finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas. The women’s field on the other hand, despite the absence of Serena Williams, boasts of incredible depth, with no less than 10 Major champions still in the draw (Sofia Kenin, Angelique Kerber, Petra Kvitova and Sloane Stephens the ones to exit so far). Ferocious ball-strikers and consummate shot-makers abound, so do solid counter-punchers and crafty all-courters blessed with magic hands. Where men’s tennis has of late birthed a string of ‘Big Game’ players — armed with a cannonball serve and a crushing groundstroke — the women’s game has an eclectic feel, leading to suggestions that currently women’s tennis is the best tennis there is. The leaders of this pack are World No.1 Ashleigh Barty, the home favourite, and defending champion Naomi Osaka, who also wore the crown in 2019. There are also Garbine Muguruza, Victoria Azarenka and Simona Halep, all multiple Major winners with proven credentials. Closer home, Indians will again look to veteran doubles specialists Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna, as the nation goes a fourth straight Slam without a singles player in the main draw.

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