aUSTRALIAN oPEN preview

Monday through Jan. 28 at Melbourne Park

Big names will be missing

Preview: The first of this year's four tennis majors is not the ultimate reunion it could have been. Long-absent luminaries Serena Williams, Andy Murray, Victoria Azarenka and Kei Nishikori remain absent, and Murray will be out for at least several months more after hip surgery. Even one of the key ceremonial figures is expected to skip the festivities: Margaret Court, long retired but still in the headlines, says she will go crab fishing instead this year as the debate continues about whether the Australian Open's third-biggest show court should continue to bear her name. Another oddity: 12-time major winner and six-time Australian Open winner Novak Djokovic is a double-digit seed (14). He is returning from six months on the sidelines with a right elbow injury.

Men's top seeds: 1. Rafael Nadal, Spain; 2. Roger Federer, Switzerland; 3. Grigor Dimitrov, Bulgaria; 4. Alexander Zverev, Germany; 5. Dominic Thiem, Austria; 6. Marin Cilic, Croatia; 7. David Goffin, Belgium; 8. Jack Sock, United States

Women's top seeds: 1. Simona Halep Romania; 2. Caroline Wozniacki, Denmark; 3. Garbine Muguruza, Spain; 4. Elina Svitolina, Ukraine; 5. Venus Williams, United States; 6. Karolina Pliskova, Czech Republic; 7. Jelena Ostapenko, Latvia; 8. Caroline Garcia, France

TV: ESPN, ESPN2 and the Tennis Channel

Last year: Roger Federer won his 18th men's singles Grand Slam title by defeating Rafael Nadal in a five-set final. It was his first major title since 2012 Wimbledon. Serena Williams defeated her sister Venus in the women's singles final, surpassing Steffi Graf to become the player with the most major wins in the women's game in the Open Era.

News services