Australian Open 2016: Andy Murray heads four Britons on entry lists Down Under
Andy Murray is joined on the 2016 Australian Open entry list by fellow Brits Aljaz Bedene, Jo Konta and Heather Watson
The Australian Open, tennis’s first Grand Slam of the year, has announced the start lists for the men’s and women’s competitions when the tournament gets under way on 18 January in Melbourne.
Andy Murray, four times a finalist, including last year, ended 2015 at a career-high No2, and his ranking margin over No3 Roger Federer will ensure he starts as second seed to the defending and five-time champion, Novak Djokovic.
Murray is joined in the men’s draw by No45-ranked Briton Aljaz Bedene, though he will be pushed down to 48 by the inclusion above him of three men with protected rankings: Tommy Haas at 25, plus Julien Benneteau and Janko Tipsarevic both at 39.
Also currently in the start list with a protected ranking are No56 Brian Baker and No89 Dmitry Tursunov.
Kyle Edmund, who broke into the top 100 for the first time this autumn, is currently at No102 though he is edged out of the 104 direct entries by three places. But with five pre-Melbourne tournaments in the Australian Open series—in Brisbane, Sydney, Hobart, Perth and Adelaide—plus events in Auckland, Doha, Chennai and Shenzhen beyond the shores of Australia, the lists may be modified by the time the draws are made on 16 January.
In the women’s list, six-time and defending champion Serena Williams tops the pile of 108 direct acceptances, of whom Petra Cetkovska, Galina Voskoboeva, Vania King, Alisa Kleybanova and Victoria Duval have protected rankings.
A significant absentee is No8 Flavia Pennetta, who announced her retirement after winning the US Open, and that has the benefit for Caroline Wozniacki of rising from No17 to No16 which, if it stays that way, ensures she avoids higher ranked players before the fourth round.
There are two British women on the list: Johanna Konta at No48 and Heather Watson at No55. Laura Robson, however, is delaying her return to preserve her protected ranking of 58 as she continues her rehabilitation after an extended absence to heal a wrist injury.
Her problems began almost two years ago, in Australia. She underwent surgery that spring, and did not play for the rest of 2014. She only returned on the grass this summer, but lost all three of her main tour matches, and won just one ITF match.
In addition to the direct entries, the men’s list will be supplemented by 16 qualifiers and eight wild cards, while the women’s list will include an additional 12 qualifiers plus eight wildcards.