While it still seems like the tennis off-season has just begun, it’s already time to look forward to the 2017 Australian Open, set to commence on January 16, 2017. It was announced on Saturday that 2016 sensation Juan Martin del Potro will miss the tournament to continue recovering and improving his fitness.
Del Potro, ranked World No. 38 in the most recent ATP rankings, enjoyed an amazing comeback year that included a run to the gold medal match at the Rio Olympics (beating tennis stars such as Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal along the way, ultimately taking silver behind Andy Murray) and a win over Murray at the Davis Cup to seal Argentina’s first-ever win. Fans were looking to see him continue his surge back to the top of the tennis world at the first Grand Slam of the 2017 season, but they will have to wait just a bit longer.
One player who will be present is Serena Williams (USA), who has won the Open six times and lost the 2016 final to Germany’s Angelique Kerber. She posted a video recently training in Florida in an attempt to emulate the roasting temperatures in Melbourne. Now ranked No. 1 ahead of Williams, Kerber won this year’s Australian and US Open and will be hungry to add another Grand Slam title to her collection.
Australia’s Nick Kyrgios will return to Grand Slam play in Melbourne this January after serving a suspension handed down by the ATP for his behavior at October’s Shanghai Masters. The 21-year-old knows he will be under pressure at his home tournament: “Look, the added media interest is never easy and it’s something that I haven’t fully got my head around or got used to, but what can I do?” he stated on Saturday. Kyrgios won three ATP titles in 2016 and currently sits at No. 13.
Other notable absences at the 2017 Australian Open include American Madison Keys, who will sit out the tournament with a wrist injury, and Petra Kvitova, who will be out for six months after a horrifying attack at her home this past week. The two-time Wimbledon champion was released from the hospital on Friday after hand surgery, and expressed her determination and optimism, stating “I will do everything I can to return to the sport I love as soon as possible.”