Melbourne, Dec 7 (Ajit Weekly News) The 2024 Australian Open singles entry list was announced on Thursday, with former champions Rafael Nadal and Naomi Osaka plotting their return at Melbourne Park in January. The singles entry will be headlined by world No.1s Novak Djokovic and Iga Swiatek.
World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka returns to defend her 2023 title, as does Djokovic, who will target a record-extending 11th Australian Open men’s singles title at Melbourne Park.
Nadal and Osaka join Angelique Kerber as three former champions mounting a comeback at Melbourne Park in January, at what has been a pivotal event in their respective Grand Slam journeys.
Nadal announced plans to take his first steps back at the Brisbane International, following almost a year out due to left hip surgery.
The 37-year-old Spaniard, who limped out of his Australian Open title defence in the second round in 2023 and did not play again all season, has fallen to world No.663 and will use a protected ranking of No.9 to make his return.
The 2019 winner Osaka and 2016 titlist Kerber have both entered via special rankings of No.46 and No.31 respectively. Former champions Osaka and Kerber are continuing their comebacks from maternity leave.
Osaka, who is due to start her comeback in Brisbane, gave birth to daughter Shai in July; Kerber, who will return at the United Cup, gave birth to daughter Liana in February.
Osaka and Kerber and are two out of seven women players, who have directly entered the first Grand Slam main draw of 2024 using a special ranking. The other five are Jennifer Brady, Ajla Tomljanovic, Shelby Rogers, Amanda Anisimova and Caty McNally.
Fiery Australian Nick Kyrgios and former US Open champion Emma Raducanu were notable absentees from the 2024 Australian Open entry list.
Kyrgios, the former world number 13, underwent knee surgery in January. However, plans for his return at Wimbledon were scrapped when he tore a ligament in his wrist.
Raducanu, however, hopes to join the Australian Open 2024 field having not played a match since falling to Jelena Ostapenko at Stuttgart in April.
The 21-year-old Briton will make her return at Auckland in the lead-up in what will be her first competitive event since she underwent surgery on both wrists and an ankle. With a protected ranking of No.103, Raducanu currently sits six places outside the main-draw entry cut-off.
The Australian Open runs from January 14 to 28, with Aryna Sabalenka aiming to defend the women’s title and Djokovic looking to secure another victory in the men’s category.
–Ajit Weekly News
News Credits – I A N S