Some of sport’s biggest names will attend the 2020 Australian Open, starting Monday, such as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Australia’s very own World No. 1, Ash Barty.

Barty is looking to have better luck in the Open, after having a bad run at the Brisbane International tournament.

Although she lost to Jennifer Brady in the second round, and her first match, at Brisbane International, Barty paired with Kiki Bertens to make it into the doubles final.

The gripping final unfortunately saw the duo lose to Hsieh Su-Wei and Barbora Strycova at Pat Rafter Arena, 3-6 7-6 (9-7) 10-8.

The qualifying rounds for the Open are now underway and during the week, the much-anticipated Rally for Relief took place, a charity tennis match to raise funds for bushfire relief first suggested by Nick Kyrgios.

Tennis favourites including Kyrgios, Federer, Nadal, Osaka, Williams and Alexander Zverev helped raise almost $5 million for those affected by the catastrophic bushfires taking over much of the country’s east coast.

 

Praise from a veteran

Earlier in the week, global favourite, Federer, 38, stood before the Melbourne media praising Barty, saying he believes she has the ability to succeed in this year’s Australian Open.

The long-time tennis champion shared details about his first major win in 2003 at Wimbledon, which gave him the ability to change his state of mind.

Federer, 38, said this helped him become the successful player he is and how Barty’s French Open win in 2019 could potentially allow her to do the same.

“It can relax you and you can really explore all of your potential and that’s what happened to me when I won my first major, and I broke through as world No.1 after that,” Federer said.

“I hope that Ash is also going to see it that way.”

 

Playful press conferences

During a different press conference, Barty, 23, was having her own fun.

Australia’s tennis sweetheart answered a reporter’s phone after he had left it on during a press conference in Adelaide.

“Does anyone know Kez, it’s got a grandma emoji?” Barty said as the phone rang.

Asked to put it on aeroplane mode, Barty opted to answer it instead.

After saying the phone was left on in a conference, the mystery Kez hung up on the World No. 1.

It was later revealed ‘Kez’ was none other than Carlton AFLW’ co-captain, Kerryn Harrington.

Harrington later tweeted the World No. 1, saying she was “absolutely star struck”.

 

Fire havoc

As fire conditions refuse to subside, multiple players have complained about the smoke conditions, saying they’ve found it hard to breathe.

Australia’s own, Bernard Tomic, had to seek medical treatment during his first-round loss when he struggled to breathe on court

Slovenia’s Dalila Jakupovic also experienced difficulties with the smoke levels, fearing she would pass out before finishing her match and fell to her knees in a coughing fit.

Qualifying matches have continued to be delayed due to the smoke from the horrific bushfires as there are concerns the air quality is not up to sporting standard.

Tennis Australia has said the conditions are being constantly monitored and the medical team have been also monitoring the players.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton, has suggested there should be an air quality policy, as he is unsure it would be appropriate for the games to continue with such intense smoke pollution.

The first rounds of the Australian Open begin on Monday January 20, with the tournament running until February 2.

Day matches will run between 11am and 4pm while night matches will be played from 5pm and finish any time between 10pm and midnight.

By Sharnae Watson