STARNBERG, July 17, 2020
The recent situation around the world has meant widespread disruption to the tennis calendar.
Grand Slams have been moved or cancelled completely, whilst exhibition tournaments have gone ahead under strict conditions. One of the first tournaments we are likely to see with crowds of any description will be the Australian Open early in 2021.
Melbourne Park will still host the event, according to ABC, despite the obvious worries about large crowds even as far forward as the turn of the year. That sense of normality will come as a comfort to tennis fans, who will be hoping for the 2021 season to feature all four Grand Slam tournaments in the proper slots.
Bwin explains how the Australian Open is the first Grand Slam tournament of the season, meaning it is the first chance to see how some of the exciting young players will perform. Towards the end of the current year, top players may be forced to choose between the US Open and the French Open, whilst injuries to the likes of Roger Federer present an opportunity for young players to come to the fore.
That is certainly the belief of the first young player of five that will surely be looking to breakthrough at the Australian Open.
Berrettini is fresh from his recent victory in the Ultimate Tennis Showdown, where he beat world number six Stefanos Tsitsipas in a thrilling final. The 24-year-old Italian has never progressed further than the second round at the Australian Open, a result he will be hoping to beat in the New Year.
Berrettini became only the second Italian to reach the semi-final of the US Open in 2019 and saw his rise through the ranks curtailed by the recent cancellation of matches.
Zverev has a tough act to follow with the likes of Boris Becker and Steffi Graf also coming from Germany, but the 23-year-old is another young gun looking to emerge in the coming year.
He reached the semi-final of the Australian Open in 2020, losing to Dominic Thiem in four sets. That momentum was halted by the cessation of tournaments through the early part of 2020 and Zverev will be hoping that a return to Australia can see him pick up where he left off.
6ft 2in Rublev is still only 22-years-old, but he is the final youngster we have chosen who will be looking to breakthrough in a Grand Slam tournament this year. He is currently ranked 14th in the world and has struggled to improve upon his stunning quarter-final placing at the US Open in 2017.
He reached the fourth round of the 2020 Australian Open, losing to Zverev, but he was recently named by Matteo Berrettini as playing ‘great tennis’ and identified as another youngster who could well make 2021 his year. He also beat Zverev at the controversial Adria Tour as he looks to improve on his current world ranking.
Tsitsipas may have been beaten by Berrettini in the UTS tournament, but his stock is rising considerably after a fine 2019 which saw him reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open. He started last year’s tournament as the sixth seed but fell to a disappointing third-round defeat to Milos Raonic.
At just 21-years-old, his potential is growing all the time, and he has already reached fifth in the world, the highest placing ever for a Greek player.
The 24-year-old is another player without a Grand Slam title to his name, hoping to emerge from the shadow of the big three at this year’s Australian Open. His record in Melbourne is not great; he has gone out in the fourth round in successive years.
His final appearance at the US Open put him firmly in the world’s top 10 though and with uncertainty over Federer’s fitness and perhaps the longevity of Djokovic and Nadal, Medvedev could be poised to make 2021 his year.