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The tolls of warm-up events at Australian Open

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This hand out photo released by the Tennis Australia on February 6, 2021 shows Spain’s Rafael Nadal attends a training session on John Cain Arena at Melbourne Park in preparation for the Australian Open. (Photo by MARK PETERSON / TENNIS AUSTRALIA / AFP)


The unusual nature of this year’s first Grand Slam reflects on all men and women players. After release from the two-week confinement in hotel rooms, players grabbed the opportunity to compete in events that would conclude on the eve of the big show’s commencement. This has led to many players to pull out, especially in the women’s events.

Serena Williams won her quarter-final match in the Yarna Valley Classic but pulled out of the event, thereby enabling world number one, Ashley Barty of Australia to move into today’s finals with Spain’s Garbine Muguruza.

A day after Serena’s withdrawal, Japan’s Naomi Osaka withdrew from the semi-final match in the Gippsland Trophy event, citing an unspecified “niggling” injury.

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In men’s warm up events, Italy’s Jannick Sinner defeated Russia’s Karen Khachanov in a three-hour battle to reach today’s title match against compatriot Stefano Travaglia. Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime defeated France’s Corentin Moutet to qualify for today’s finals against Britain’s Daniel Evans.

The four players in each of their nation’s ATP Cup team squared off in Melbourne Park. The world number one, Novak Djokovic, was in the Serbian team that lost in the quarter-finals to Germany.

Without Rafael Nadal, Spain reached the semifinals and lost to Italy that will face Russia in today’s finals. In Germany’s losing effort to Russia, Australian Open title hopeful Alexander Zverev suffered an injury to his lower back.

Nadal’s usual decision not to take part in competition during the week preceding a Grand Slam may well be a factor in the outcome of the 2021 Australian Open.

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