Last year it was bushfires, this year the coronavirus pandemic, but, after months of lockdown and self-isolation, the Australian Open is finally underway. It may be three weeks later than usual and with limited numbers of spectators, but it does at least represent progress. Most relieved of all will be the players, finally allowed out of quarantine in their hotel rooms, where they have had to come up with novel ways of practicing, training and keeping fit in a confined space, without resorting to the minibar. Unfortunately, the necessarily stringent Covid-19 restrictions prevented Sir Andy Murray from taking part, although the likes of Dan Evans, Cameron Norrie, Johanna Konta, Heather Watson and, making her Grand Slam debut, the remarkable Francesca Jones, are all in Melbourne to represent British hopes. Also lining up in the men’s draw are Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Dominic Thiem, although sadly no Roger Federer, whilst Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Sofia Kenin and world number one Ashleigh Barty are favourites amongst the women.
It might be a strangely quiet tournament, but it does provide hope that tennis, and sport in general, can return to some form of normality, and with it this year’s long anticipated Wimbledon Championships, where tickets and debentures are still available to buy from Wimbledon Debenture Tickets through Sporting Agenda.