After overcoming quite the scare, the Australian Open is finally set to start on Monday, February 8.
The opening major of the year, which traditionally begins in January, was pushed back three weeks by the tournament orgnanisers due to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
Further disruptions loomed as 507 players and staff were forced to quarantine after a 26-year-old hotel worker tested positive for the highly contagious UK strain of coronavirus.
The staff member who contracted coronavirus was described as a ‘casual contact’ to the players, with tournament director Craig Tiley on Friday confirming all 507 players and staff subsequently tested negative.
The disruptions caused a 24-hour delay to the tournament draw, which has now taken place. Men’s defending champion Djokovic faces France’s Jeremy Chardy in a tough opening round, while women’s top seed Ashleigh Barty takes on Danka Kovinic of Montenegro.
Meanwhile Rafael Nadal – who is currently tied with Roger Federer on 20 Grand Slam titles – starts against Laslo Djere.
Serena Williams – who is in a race against time to be fit after withdrawing from a warm-up event on Friday – is scheduled to open her quest for a 24th Slam against Laura Siegemund.
Before Monday’s opening round, Sportsmail takes you through everything you need to know.
Australian Open: How to watch?
Before we delve into the finer details of seeds, the draw and the tournament schedule, let’s touch on how you can actually watch the Australian Open this year.
Eurosport will be broadcasting the action live from Melbourne, with coverage beginning at midnight on Monday, February 8.
You can also stream the action live on their Eurosport Player. If you’re not a Eurosport customer, you can buy an annual or monthly pass here, where an annual pass costs £4.99 per month.
You can also watch Eurosport via Amazon Prime, which costs £6.99 per month. However, you can get a seven-day free trial and watch the first week without paying.
Starting from the fourth round, the BBC will also be showing a highlights package.
Australian Open: Who are the top seeded players?
Men’s top 10 seeds
- Novak Djokovic
- Rafael Nadal
- Dominic Thiem
- Daniil Medvedev
- Stefanos Tsitsipas
- Alexander Zverev
- Andrey Rublev
- Diego Schwartzman
- Matteo Berrettini
- Gael Monfils
Women’s top 10 seeds
- Ashleigh Barty
- Simona Halep
- Naomi Osaka
- Sofia Kenin
- Elina Svitolina
- Karolina Pliskova
- Aryna Sabalenka
- Bianca Andreescu
- Petra Kvitova
- Serena Williams
Who won the Australian Open in 2020?
Novak Djokovic (top) and Sofia Kenin (bottom) start their Australian Open defences next week
Novak Djokovic and Sofia Kenin were crowned Australian Open champions in 2020.
Kenin, who was just 21 years old at the time, came from a set down to beat Garbine Muguruza, in turn becoming the youngest American Slam winner since Serena Williams.
The American continued her good form throughout the year, but she was unable to add to her collection of Slams at the French Open, where she lost to Iga Swiatek in the final.
Djokovic, on the other hand, claimed an astonishing eighth Australian Open title after overcoming Dominic Thiem in a five-set classic.
After winning the opening set, Djokovic found himself two sets to one down, before producing a sensational comeback, the type of which we’ve become so accustomed to from the all-time great.
British blockbuster in Round One
Brits Cameron Norrie (L) and Dan Evans (R) go head-to-head in the Australian Open first round
One to look out for in the opening round is certainly the all-British clash between Dan Evans and Cameron Norrie in what will be an intriguing domestic match-up.
It irradiates any possibility that every British contender could be knocked out by round two, which happened last year at the French Open.
Elsewhere, British No1 Johanna Konta takes on Kaja Juvan, while Heather Watson faces Czech Kristyna Pliskova.
Completing the draw for the Brits are Katie Boulter, who will play Daria Kasatkina, and qualifier Francesca Jones, who plays American Shelby Rogers.
Where is Andy Murray?
Unfortunately for Andy Murray, the three-time Grand Slam winner won’t be able to participate in this year’s Australian Open.
The Scot tested positive for coronavirus midway through January, and though he held discussions with Tennis Australia to try and find a solution, there was no ‘workable quarantine’ period before the February 8 start date.
Murray has now traveled to Italy and win make his return in a qualifier for the ATP Challenger tournament.
Meanwhile, Roger Federer also misses out as he continues his rehabilitation from his double knee surgery last year.
Will fans be allowed in at the Australian Open?
Around 390,000 fans are expected to attend this year’s Australian Open across the two weeks
Yes, fans will be allowed to attend this year’s Australian Open, though of course at a reduced capacity.
A total of 30,000 will be allowed each day until the quarter-final stage, where that will be reduced to 25,000.
In total, it’s expected that around 390,000 people will be in attendance across the tournament in full, which is around half of the usual number.
When are the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final?
With the postponed start to the Australian Open this year, we’ll be approaching March by the time the final comes around.
The quarter-finals will begin on February 16, with the semi-finals starting on the 18th, while the women’s final will be held on February 20 and the men’s on the 21st.
Australian Open schedule in full
February 8 – Round 1: men’s and women’s singles
February 9 – Round 1: men’s and women’s singles
February 10- Round 2: men’s and women’s singles
February 11 – Round 2: men’s and women’s singles
February 12: Round 3: men’s and women’s singles
February 13: Round 3: men’s and women’s singles
February 14: Round 4: men’s and women’s singles
February 15: Round 4: men’s and women’s singles
February 16: Quarter-finals: men’s and women’s singles
February 17: Quarter-finals: men’s and women’s singles
February 18: Women’s semi-finals and first men’s semi-final
February 19: Second men’s semi-final
February 20: Women’s final
February 21: Men’s final