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Wednesday, Feb 26th

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Coming into the 2013 Australian Open Novak Djokovic was very much top dog and ably brushed aside the many pretenders to become the first man in the Open era to “threepeat” down under. This year though things are different thanks in main to the incredibly resurgent Rafael Nadal. Last year Rafa didn’t even come here recuperating as he was from the debilitating injury to his knees. But by winning his favourite Roland Garros and defeating Djokovic to capture a second title in New York enroute to regaining the year end top ranking, the Spaniard is clearly well and truly back.

Fellow members of the Big 4 Andy Murray & Roger Federer both faltered in the second half of the season through injury and age respectively and need to strike early to set their 2014 campaigns on the right track. The young guns want to make their name, the veterans want to remind us all that they’ve still got the game and will the new coaches make the difference? To glean what we can about what the future holds, let us delve right in to the draw and analyse what the future holds.

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Can anybody stop Serena? Such is the dominance of the younger Williams on the WTA Tour that she has turned the entire field of women’s tennis into a hive where she is well and truly queen bee. Roger Federer had a similar hold on the men’s tour in the mid 2000’s but before that one would have to go back to arguably women’s tennis’ greatest ever exponent Fraulein Graf for this level of consistent dominance. But a Nadal did turn up as did a Seles to break the stronghold and perhaps we will that rise start here. Perhaps the latest nemesis is Victoria Azarenka. The Belarussian has claimed the last two Australian Opens and will look for a repeat on her favourite court.

The rest of the women’s draw does have a chaotic feel to it with a variety of talented stars – some capable of their moment in the sun such as Kvitova or Li Na and others more consistent but a shade short on the biggest stage including Errani or Kerber. And of course you have Sharapova who may have both but just can’t seem to get over the Serena hurdle. That may just be the motivation for one of the many youngsters on the WTA tour – to do a Sloane Stephens – and maybe set the tennis world alight. So who might do it? Let’s explore the draw to find out.

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Sixteen former top 10 players, including four former world No. 1s, will return to the court this January to contest the annual Australian Open legends event.

Commencing on Sunday 19 January, the 16-strong men’s field features former world No. 1 and three-time Australian Open singles champion Mats Wilander, and former top five players including 2001 Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic, French Open champion–come-music star Yannick Noah, crowd favourite Frenchman Henri Leconte, three time Australian Open doubles champion Jonas Bjorkman, Cedric Pioline, Guy Forget and Thomas Enqvist.

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Australian Open 2014 will welcome the world’s best tennis players to Melbourne Park, with 99 of the top 100 men and 99 of the top 100 women confirmed for the first Grand Slam of the year. World No.1s Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams will headline an all-star field for the event, and will be joined by each of their top 10 rivals for what is set to be another hotly contested Australian Open.

Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said fans could expect two weeks of world class tennis when the tournament gets under way on Monday 13 January.

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Rory McIlroy tore up the script with a birdie on the last to win OneAsia’s Emirates Australian Open by a stroke on Sunday, breaking the hearts of thousands of fans who turned out hoping to see local hero Adam Scott complete a rare Triple Crown. Scott (71) led by four overnight and was hot favourite to add the Emirates Australian Open to the Australian PGA Championship presented by Coca-Cola and the Australian Masters he won earlier this month, but McIlroy fired a six-under-par 66 to ruin the fairytale.

The Northern Irishman finished 18 under around the 6,344-metre (6,938-yard) Royal Sydney Golf Club course to record his first win of a turbulent year marked by a split with his management company and a change of equipment manufacturer.

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Adam Scott stayed on course for a rare Australian Triple Crown with a two-under-par second-round 70 on Friday that left him 12 under at OneAsia’s A$1.25 million Emirates Australian Open.

The U.S. Masters champion will play alongside fellow Major winner Rory McIlroy on Saturday in a dream pairing after the Northern Irishman shot 65 to stand at 10 under.

Australian Richard Green was one further back after an ace helped him to a 66, while Matthew Jones (68) was eight under.

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The legendary Rod Laver, the only man in history to have won two Grand Slams (the Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and US Open titles in one calendar year), has been named as global Ambassador for the Australian Open.

The announcement was made at the official launch of Rod Laver’s memoir by Tennis Australia President Steve Healy.

Laver said he was proud to take on the role of Australian Open Ambassador and to promote the Grand Slam event.

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