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10sBalls • Tennis Looks At “Tidbits” Of News • Andy Murray Out • Serena Out • Novak? Vika?

By: Thomas Cluck


It has been an eventful and hectic first week of the 2018 tennis season and the week isn’t even done. With tournaments for men and women going on in Australia, New Zealand, China, India, and Qatar, it is a tennis fan’s dream with nearly 24-hour constant play across the ATP and WTA.


While there are many tournaments going on this week, there are even more stars missing for various reasons and the list keeps growing. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic withdrew from tournaments in Brisbane and Doha with knee and elbow injuries respectively but both are headed to Melbourne and will play the Tie Break Tens exhibition before assessing their health and chances in the year’s first major.


Two men’s players already giving up their Australian Open hopes are Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori as the Brit was forced to withdraw from Brisbane and the Australian Open with a hip injury that caused him to shut down his season after Wimbledon and skip the US Open as well.


It’s a similar story for Nishikori as the Japanese superstar will miss two majors in a row as his wrist injury from last season is not yet up to the test for best-of-five conditions in Melbourne. Nishikori however will make his comeback at two Challengers in Newport Beach and Dallas before returning to the tour in New York at the new event in Long Island.


Editors Note – SERENA Pulled out of the Aussie Open 2018, Azeranka still in doubt….


The women’s field at the Australian Open is also not without appearance questions though for different reasons as Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka’s Melbourne participation lies in the balance. Williams came back to tennis just four months after giving birth to her first daughter in September at an exhibition last week in Abu Dhabi but has since flown back home to Florida and the 23-time major winner has withdrawn from the year’s first major, opting not to defend her title saying she is getting close to her best but does not want to go to an event where she doesn’t believe she can win. It’s hard to argue with Serena at this point in her storied career.


It is an even murkier situation for two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka as the Belarusian former number one is still embroiled in a heated custody battle over her one-year-old son, prohibiting her from leaving the state of California. Azarenka has a wildcard into the Australian Open but at this point it looks unlikely she will be able to make use of it.


Fortunately for the sport, the players that are there are looking good early in the first week of the new season. Especially on the women’s side, there has been some very high-quality matches in Brisbane, Auckland, Hopman Cup, and Shenzhen, with some strong performances so far coming from the likes of Simona Halep, Caroline Wozniacki, Elina Svitolina, Karolina Pliskova, Johanna Konta, Maria Sharapova, and more.


Many of the same top stars in action this week will take to the courts for further fine-tuning before the year’s first Slam as a star-studded field is set for the women in Sydney and the men in Auckland with some players playing their first tournament of the new season. Americans Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens arrived in Sydney for their first tournament of the year while Jelena Ostapenko and Garbine Muguruza also will take part in the WTA Premier event.


The season has just begun and there is already a plethora of on and off-court storylines brewing before the season’s first major tournament in Melbourne at the Australian Open. Check back later for more of the news around the tennis world from Down Under.


Follow Thomas on Twitter @thomas_cluck917.

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