Ten names to watch in Melbourne

The new grand slam season kicks off with Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka defending their titles at the Australian Open.

Usual suspects Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Serena Williams will once again be among the title favourites when play gets under way at Melbourne Park on January 20.

Here, the PA news agency picks out 10 other names to look out for.

Stefanos Tsitsipas

Stefanos Tsitsipas lifts the ATP Finals trophy
Stefanos Tsitsipas lifted the ATP Finals trophy (John Walton/PA)

The 21-year-old Greek returns to the scene of his grand slam breakthrough as a top-10 player and ATP Finals champion. No longer a surprise package, Tstisipas’ big task will be to deal with the weight of expectation and keep his composure, which has been a problem at times.

Daniil Medvedev

Daniil Medvedev has already reached a grand slam final
Daniil Medvedev has already reached a grand slam final (Trevor Collens/AP)

The mercurial Russian’s brilliant US Open, where he made it all the way to the final and pushed Nadal to five sets, sent him to the top of the list of young players likely to break the big three’s slam stranglehold. A remarkable athlete for his height with stand-out defensive skills.

Denis Shapovalov

Still only 20, Shapovalov seems to have dealt with the choppy waters that nearly always follow a big breakthrough and come out the other side as a serious contender. With passion and exuberance in bucket-loads, the Canadian looks to be heading for the top 10.

Andrey Rublev

Somewhat in the shadow of his fellow young guns, Russian Rublev was the first of them to make a slam quarter-final at the US Open in 2017. Injury set him back but the 22-year-old is on the up again and goes into the tournament on a 12-match winning streak after titles in Doha and Adelaide.

Jannik Sinner

The hottest young teenage talent in tennis, 18-year-old Italian Sinner burst into the top 100 last season before producing a staggering performance to beat Alex De Minaur and win the Next Gen ATP Finals. Possesses explosive power off both wings and a competitive zeal to match.

Ashleigh Barty

Melbourne has not had an Australian women’s singles champion since Chris O’Neil in 1978 but Barty goes in as the world number one having won her maiden grand slam title in Paris last year. A quarter-finalist at Melbourne Park 12 months ago, her profile has sky-rocketed since.

Karolina Pliskova

Karolina Pliskova has begun this season in strong form
Karolina Pliskova has begun this season in strong form (Tertius Pickard/AP)

The tall Czech has been regarded as an imminent slam winner for several seasons so could this be the tournament where it finally happens? Last year Pliskova staged a remarkable comeback to beat Williams in the quarter-finals but lost a close one to Osaka. Recently hired Dani Vallverdu as coach.

Amanda Anisimova

Anisimova reached the fourth round in Melbourne last January as a 17-year-old and went on to make the semi-finals in Paris. Tragedy followed with the sudden death of her father and long-time coach, Konstantin, in August. Tennis understandably took a back seat but she is a huge talent with a love of the big stage.

Caroline Wozniacki

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I’ve played professionally since I was 15 years old. In that time I’ve experienced an amazing first chapter of my life. With 30 WTA singles titles, a world #1 ranking for 71 weeks, a WTA Finals victory, 3 Olympics, including carrying the flag for my native Denmark, and winning the 2018 Australian Open Grand slam championship, I’ve accomplished everything I could ever dream of on the court. I’ve always told myself, when the time comes, that there are things away from tennis that I want to do more, then it’s time to be done. In recent months, I’ve realized that there is a lot more in life that I’d like to accomplish off the court. Getting married to David was one of those goals and starting a family with him while continuing to travel the world and helping raise awareness about rheumatoid arthritis (project upcoming) are all passions of mine moving forward. So with that, today I am announcing that I will be retiring from professional tennis after the Australian Open in January. This has nothing to do with my health and this isn’t a goodbye, I look forward to sharing my exciting journey ahead with all of you! Finally, I want to thank with all my heart, the fans, my friends, my sponsors, my team, especially my father as my coach, my husband, and my family for decades of support! Without all of you I could have never have done this!

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Could there be a fairytale finish to Wozniacki’s career? The Dane announced last month she will retire after the tournament at the age of 29. Melbourne finally brought her the grand slam title she craved in 2018 and it has been a tough road since. Sure to get a great reaction.

Coco Gauff

Coco Gauff produced a stunning run at Wimbledon
Coco Gauff produced a stunning run at Wimbledon (Mike Egerton/PA)

One of the hottest tickets in Melbourne, as she has been at every tournament since that remarkable Wimbledon breakthrough, will be 15-year-old Gauff. The American does not turn 16 until March and already has a WTA title to her name. Will face Venus Williams, who she beat at Wimbledon, in the first round.

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