Alex de Minaur has to play two matches on Saturday. (AAP Image/Craig Golding)
Alex de Minaur has to play two matches on Saturday. (AAP Image/Craig Golding)Source: AAP

Australia’s Alex De Minaur reached his second consecutive Sydney International final with a straight sets win over Gilles Simon in their rain-postponed semi-final on Saturday.

De Minaur, the 29th-ranked 19-year-old, wore down the French journeyman 6-3, 6-2 in just over 90 minutes in hot conditions.

De Minaur was due to take on Simon in the semi-final late Friday, but persistent rain forced the match to be carried over until Saturday.

It left the young Aussie with a minimum of five hours to recover ahead of the night final against Italy’s Andreas Seppi.

Seppi advanced to his first Sydney International final in 12 trips following a straight-sets victory over Argentine third seed Diego Schwartzman.

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A frustrated Alex de Minaur has hit out at Australian Open organisers for scheduling his first round match less than 48 hours after the Sydney International final.

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De Minaur qualified for the final against Andreas Seppi by defeating Frenchman Gilles Simon, 6-3 6-2, in 34 degree heat on Saturday afternoon.

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But that semi-final was delayed because of rain on Friday, forcing de Minaur to play the final just five hours later on Saturday evening.

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Then the day one Australian Open schedule was released, which sees de Minaur face Portugal’s Pedro Sousa on Show Court 1, likely at 3pm on Monday.

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AUS OPEN DAY 1 SCHEDULE: CHAMPS HEADLINE CENTRE COURT, TOP AUSSIES IN ACTION

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‘STINKER’, ‘BEST AUSSIE HOPE’: EVERY AUS OPEN LOCAL’S CHANCES RATED

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“What’s more annoying is me having to play on Monday at the Australian Open and not getting helped out as a fellow Aussie at your home Slam,” de Minaur said.

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“I think they’re punishing Aussies for playing deep in their home tournaments, and I think that should not be what they should be doing.”

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De Minaur was asked if he had requested a postponement from Tennis Australia of his first round match, which is on Monday like the rest of his side of the draw.

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“Yeah, I mean they came out with the schedule before they even saw the halves or saw who was in the finals the week prior,” he said.

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“I think that’s pretty poor.”

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The issue for de Minaur is that to ensure he is fully prepared for the opening grand slam of the season, he would have to pull out of the final of his home tournament.

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“It was quite hot out there,” de Minaur said after his semi-final win over Simon.

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“It was pretty brutal condition, it’s probably the hottest day we’ve had, very humid as well.

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“Long rallies, pretty taxing, but this is what I do the hard work for, to go out there and back it up.”

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The eyes of the sporting world are fixed on Australia as the 2019 tennis season begins in Melbourne.

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The draw has thrown up plenty of intrigue as the top stars all descend on Melbourne; but even though Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams are the favourites, as usual, there are no sure things.

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Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this year’s event.

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WHEN IS THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN?

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The 2019 Australian Open will be held at Melbourne Park from January 14 to 27.

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The exact order of play for each day will be announced on the previous day, but we do know on which days players will feature.

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The bottom half of both the Men’s and Women’s Singles draws will play on the opening Monday (including Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer).

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The top half of both the Men’s and Women’s Singles draws will play on Tuesday (including Simona Halep, Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev).

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The halves will then alternate, ie the bottom half playing on Wednesday/Friday, the top half on Thursday/Saturday, etc.

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HOW CAN I WATCH THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN?

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The Australian TV broadcast has moved from Channel 7 to Nine.

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Until the semi-finals, the main Nine channel will broadcast play from 10am to 6pm, with a break from 6-7pm for local news (the broadcast will move to 9GO! at this time from Jan 14-19, then to 9Gem from Jan 20-24), then returning to Nine until the end of play.

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A secondary broadcast of other matches will be shown all day on 9Gem from Monday January 14 to Saturday January 19.

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From January 25-27, broadcasts will begin in the afternoon due to later start times. Check your local listings for more details.

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WHAT PRIZE MONEY IS ON OFFER?

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The total prize money for the 2019 Australian Open is $62.5 million, up 14 per cent on last year.

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For the Men’s and Women’s Singles, the prize money is:

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Winner – $4,100,000

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Runner-up – $2,050,000

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Semi-final – $920,000

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Quarter-final – $460,000

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Round 4 – $260,000

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Round 3 – $155,000

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Round 2 – $105,000

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Round 1 – $75,000

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WHAT IS THE WEATHER FORECAST?

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It’s like the sun itself realises, “oh, the tennis is on. Time to make it really hot!”

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The current forecast suggests the hottest part of the tournament will be the first two days, when it’s projected to reach 37 and 35 degrees respectively.

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After 34 on Wednesday, it’s expected to cool to around 30 until the weekend, when it’s predicted to reach a top of 27 for both Saturday and Sunday.

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It’s then expected to stay around the high 20s, with a 33 on the second Thursday and then temperatures in the mid 20s for the rest of the tournament.

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WHO ARE THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN FAVOURITES?

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All odds courtesy of Sportsbet

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MEN

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Novak Djokovic ($2.25)

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Roger Federer ($5)

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Rafael Nadal ($13)

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Alexander Zverev ($13)

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Kei Nishikori ($21)

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Karen Khachanov ($26)

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Kevin Anderson ($34)

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Marin Cilic ($34)

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Grigor Dimitrov ($34)

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Borna Coric ($41)

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Dominic Thiem ($41)

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Stefanos Tsitsipas ($41)

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Others quoted

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WOMEN

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Serena Williams ($5.50)

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Angelique Kerber ($7)

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Naomi Osaka ($13)

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Aryna Sabalenka ($13)

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Ash Barty ($15)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Karolina Pliskova ($15)

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Elina Svitolina ($15)

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Simona Halep ($17)

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Caroline Wozniacki ($21)

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Petra Kvitova ($21)

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Kiki Bertens ($26)

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Sloane Stephens ($26)

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Others quoted

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LEADING HOPES, BEST OUTSIDER AND AUSSIES (by Darren Walton, AAP)

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MEN

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

NOVAK DJOKOVIC (SRB)

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Age: 31

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Ranking: 1

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Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

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Career prize money: $US125,847,879 ($A178.50 million)

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Career titles: 72

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Grand slam titles: 14 (Australian Open 2008, 2011-2013, 2015-16; French Open 2016; Wimbledon 2011, 2014, 2015, 2018; US Open 2011, 2015, 2018)

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Australian Open win-loss record: 61-8

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Best Australian Open results: champion 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016

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The resurgent Serb is halfway through completing his second non-calendar-year grand slam sweep and few would back against him taking the third step at his happiest major hunting ground.

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RAFAEL NADAL (ESP)

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Age: 32

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Ranking: 2

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Plays: left-handed (two-handed backhand)

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Career prize money: $US103,251,975 ($A146.54 million)

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Career titles: 80

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Grand slam titles: 17 (Australian Open 2009; French Open 2005-08, 2010-14, 2017-18; Wimbledon 2008, 2010; US Open 2010, 2013, 2017)

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Australian Open win-loss record: 55-12

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Best Australian Open result: champion 2009

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It’s now a decade since the great Spaniard celebrated his lone title triumph in Melbourne and time is slipping away for the 32-year-old to join Rod Laver and Roy Emerson as the only men to have won all four grand slam singles crowns at least twice.

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ROGER FEDERER (SUI)

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Age: 37

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Ranking: 3

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Plays: right-handed

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Career prize money: $US120,514,916 ($A171.04 million)

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Career titles: 99

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Grand slam titles: 20 (Australian Open 2004, 2006-07, 2010, 2017-18; French Open 2009; Wimbledon 2003-07, 2009, 2012, 2017; US Open 2004-2008)

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Australian Open win-loss record: 94-13

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Best Australian Open results: champion 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2017, 2018

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Like Djokovic, the mighty Swiss is chasing an unprecedented seventh men’s singles crown at Melbourne Park while an Open hat-trick would also take Federer’s career title tally to a magical No.100.

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ALEXANDER ZVEREV (GER)

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Age: 21

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Ranking: 4

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Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

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Career prize money: $US15,747,928 ($A22.35 million)

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Career titles: 10

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Grand slam titles: 0

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Australian Open win-loss record: 4-3

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Best Australian Open results: third round 2017, 2018

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The 2018 season-ending championship winner is under an injury cloud and continues to disappoint at the slams but it seems only a matter of time before the young German breaks through on one of the sport’s biggest stages.

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KEVIN ANDERSON (RSA)

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Age: 32

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Ranking: 6

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Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

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Career prize money: $US15,823,923 ($A22.33 million)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Career titles: 6

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Grand slam titles: 0

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Australian Open win-loss record: 11-10

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Best Australian Open results: fourth round 2013, 2014, 2015

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With runs to the final in New York and Wimbledon in the past 18 months, the South African has emerged as a bona fide grand slam contender but has yet to really make his mark in Melbourne.

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MARIN CILIC (CRO)

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Age: 30

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Ranking: 7

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Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

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Career prize money: $US26,106,425 ($A37.05 million)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Career titles: 18

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Grand slam titles: 1 (US Open 2014)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Australian Open win-loss record: 26-10

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Best Australian Open result: finalist 2018

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Runner-up to Federer last year, the big-hitting former US Open champion is proving a perennial grand slam force and could sneak off with the title if the big dogs falter.

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BEST OUTSIDER

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KEI NISHIKORI (JPN)

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Age: 29

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Ranking: 9

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Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

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Career prize money: $US21,765,766 ($A16.57 million)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Career titles: 12

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Grand slam titles: 0

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Australian Open win-loss record: 23-8

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Best Australian Open results: quarter-finalist 2012, 2015, 2016

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After a wretched run with injury, the Japanese trailblazer has regained his place in the world’s top 10 with a big 2018 including a US Open semi-final showing before opening this season with title success in Brisbane.

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BEST AUSTRALIAN HOPES

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ALEX DE MINAUR

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Age: 19

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Ranking: 29

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Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Career prize money: $US1,503,341 ($A2.10 million)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Career titles: 0

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Grand slam titles: 0

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Australian Open win-loss record: 1-2

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Best Australian Open result: second round 2017

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Seeded for the first time at a slam, the ATP’s 2018 Newcomer of the Year has started the new season on fire after reaching two finals and surging from outside the top 200 last year.

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NICK KYRGIOS

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Age: 23

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Ranking: 51

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Career prize money: $US6,627,174 ($A9.36 million)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Career titles: 4

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Grand slam titles: 0

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Australian Open win-loss record: 11-5

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Best Australian Open results: quarter-finalist 2015

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The underdone and underachieving super-talent hasn’t made the last eight at a slam in four years and has a brutal draw after being unseeded at a major for the first time since the 2015 US Open.

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WOMEN

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SIMONA HALEP (ROM)

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Age: 27

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Ranking: 1

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Career prize money: $US28,145,579 ($A40.22 million)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Career titles: 18

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Grand slam titles: 1 (French Open 2018)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Australian Open win-loss record: 16-8

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Best Australian Open result: finalist 2018

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The world No.1 endured an injury-marred end to 2018 and has also lost her Aussie super-coach Darren Cahill but can’t be dismissed as a title threat if she navigates her way through the first week.

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ANGELIQUE KERBER (GER)

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Age: 30

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Ranking: 2

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Plays: left-handed (two-handed backhand)

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Career prize money: $US27,156,841 ($A38.80 million)

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Career titles: 12

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Grand slam titles: 3 (Australian Open 2016; Wimbledon 2018; US Open 2016)

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Australian Open win-loss record: 26-10

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Best Australian Open result: champion 2016

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The revitalised former champion returns as a serious challenger onceagain after crowning her comeback from a disappointing 2017 season with a memorable Wimbledon final triumph over Serena Williams.

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

CAROLINE WOZNIACKI (DEN)

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Age: 28

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Ranking: 3

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Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Career prize money: $US33,495,723 ($A47.86 million)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Career titles: 30

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Grand slam titles: 1 (Australian Open 2018)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Australian Open win-loss record: 32-10

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Best Australian Open result: champion 2018

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

The Great Dane arrives in the best headspace of her tumultuous career, having finally shed her tag as the best player without a major last year in Melbourne.

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NAOMI OSAKA (JPN)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Age: 21

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Ranking: 4

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Career prize money: $US7,682,862 ($A10.90 million)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Career titles: 2

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Grand slam titles: 1 (US Open 2018)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Australian Open win-loss record: 6-3

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Best Australian Open result: fourth round 2018

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

The Japanese superstar is bidding to become the first woman to claim back-to-back majors in more than three years after stunning Serena Williams in their controversial New York final last September.

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

ELINA SVITOLINA (UKR)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Age: 24

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Ranking: 6

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Career prize money: $US13,123,280 ($A18.73 million)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Career titles: 13

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Grand slam titles: 0

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Australian Open win-loss record: 11-6

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Best Australian Open result: quarter-finalist 2018

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The former world junior champion has entrenched her place among the elite with 10 titles in the past two years but has yet to excel on the grand slam stage, making only three quarter-finals.

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

SERENA WILLIAMS (USA)

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Age: 37

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Ranking: 16

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Career prize money: $US88,233,301 ($A126.07 million)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Career titles: 72

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Grand slam titles: 23 (Australian Open 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2017; French Open 2002, 2013, 2015; Wimbledon 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016; US Open 1999, 2002, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Australian Open win-loss record: 81-10

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Best Australian Open results: champion 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2017

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

The American superstar remains desperate to match Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 grand slam singles crowns after falling in the final at the past two majors.

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BEST OUTSIDER

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

ARYNA SABALENKA (BLR)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Age: 20

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Ranking: 11

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Career prize money: $US2,312,199 ($A3.29 million)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Career titles: 3

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Grand slam titles: 0

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Australian Open win-loss record: 0-1

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Best Australian Open result: first round 2018

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

The young Belarusian Fed Cup star boasts eight top-10 scalps in the past six months, including Wozniacki’s, and soared from outside the top 70 at the end of 2017.

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

BEST AUSTRALIAN HOPES

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

ASHLEIGH BARTY

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Age: 22

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Ranking: 15

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Career prize money: $US5,208,080 ($A7.44 million)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Career titles: 3

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Grand slam titles: 0

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Australian Open win-loss record: 4-5

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Best Australian Open results: third round 2017, 2018

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Enjoyed another breakout season in 2018, consolidating her place in the top 20 with titles in Nottingham and Zhuhai and a first-time charge to a grand slam second week in New York before opening the new year in blazing form.

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

DARIA GAVRILOVA

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Age: 24

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Ranking: 34

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Career prize money: $US3,569,491 ($A5.09 million)

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Career titles: 1

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Grand slam titles: 0

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Australian Open win-loss record: 8-5

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Best Australian Open results: fourth round 2016, 2017

“},{“contentType”:”HTML”,”html”:”

Tough to predict what’s in store for the temperamental talent but two runs to the last 16 in her home-city slam prove she’s capable of challenging the best on her day.

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