2019 Australian Open preview
Sunday-Jan. 27 at Melbourne Park • ESPN, ESPN2
First tennis major of season
could be Murray's farewell
Top seeds: 1. Novak Djokovic, Serbia; 2. Rafael Nadal, Spain; 3. Roger Federer, Switzerland; 4. Alexander Zverev, Germany. Defending champion: Federer
Preview: Despite a shaky start to 2019, Novak Djokovic is the oddsmakers' favorite. Djokovic won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year to run his major title total to 14, trailing only Roger Federer's 20 and Rafael Nadal's 17. … Andy Murray said last week that his surgically repaired right hip is too painful to allow him to compete at a top level and that he will be retiring after Wimbledon — if he even can make it that long. The 31-year-old from Scotland is a five-time runner-up at the Australian Open but has never won the title. … Federer has won the past two titles at Melbourne Park and a total of six, like Djokovic. … Fifth-ranked Juan Martin del Potro won't play because of a fractured right kneecap.
Top seeds: 1. Simona Halep, Romania; 2. Angelique Kerber, Germany; 3. Caroline Wozniacki, Denmark; 4. Naomi Osaka, Japan. Defending champion: Caroline Wozniacki
Preview: Serena Williams is pursuing her 24th Grand Slam championship (and her eighth in Australia), which would tie Margaret Court's record of major titles. When last seen at a major, Williams was in full-blown meltdown mode in the final of the 2018 U.S. Open, which was won by Japan's Naomi Osaka. Based on her performance in singles and doubles at the recent Hopman Cup, Williams appears leaner, quicker and more fit than she was last September. She is seeded 16th. … Eight different women have won the past eight majors. … Aryna Sabalenka, a hard-hitting 20-year-old from Belarus, is one to watch.
Among the changes this year are first-to-10-points, win-by-two tiebreakers at 6-all in men's fifth sets and women's third sets; a new way of measuring extreme heat and the allowance for 10-minute breaks ahead of men's fourth sets — something first seen at last year's U.S. Open — and, as already was the case, ahead of women's third sets; 25-second serve clocks.