As the 2021 Australian Open kicks off there are 20 athletes making their Australian Open debut. Several of which will be competing at a Grand Slam for the first time in their careers.
Before the first round gets underway The Inner Sanctum took a look at each of the players who will be making their Australian Open debut.
Danilovic has missed out on qualifying for a grand slam for the past three years, getting as far as the third round of qualifying for Wimbledon in 2019. the 20-year-old has just five titles but has several wins over top 10 players, including the 8th seed Bianca Andreescu. In the first round, she’ll have to beat 18th seed Petra Martic to make it any further in the Grand Slam.
Hibi has plenty of experience with hard court tournaments, with all of her eight titles being won on hard court. At the Gippsland Trophy, Hibi made it through to the second round following a three-set victory over Varvara Lepchenko. She will be facing Lucky Loser Anna Schmiedlová in the first round.
Jones was the big story heading out of qualification. The world number 241 having been told by doctors at a young age she wouldn’t be able to play tennis professionally due to her rare genetic condition Ectrodactyly Ectodermal Dysplasia. Despite this, she has won five ITF titles along with making it to her first Grand Slam. Her first-round opponent will be 28-year-old Shelby Rogers, who has a strong record against highly ranked players such as Simona Halep.
The 26-year-old has fallen short in the first round of qualification for the past two years but will make her debut in 2021. Paquet has four years of Open experience having competed in the French Open each year since 2017, making it through to the second round in her first year. She’ll go head to head with fellow Australian Open debut Mayar Sherif in round one.
Sherif made history in 2020 by being the first Egyptian woman to make the main draw of the French Open. Sherif’s 2020 included three ITF tournament wins. Her round one matchup against Chloé Parquet will guarantee that there will be at least one debutant makes it through to the second round in 2021.
Despite it being Bolsova’s Australian Open debut she is no stranger to the Grand Slam tournaments. In 2019 and 2020 she competed in both the French and US Open, having made it to the fourth round in the 2019 French Open, and the second round of two successive US Opens. At the Australian Open, she’ll face the 22nd seed Jennifer Brady in the first round.
The world number 89 will be appearing in her first Australian Open this week after missing out in qualifying last year. Following a strong performance at the 2020 US Open where she went through to the third round, Gracheva rose through the world rankings to automatically qualify for the Australian Open. In round one she’ll face off against fellow Russian Anna Blinkova, who she beat in 2019 to qualify for the Citi Open.
The youngest player in the men’s singles event has had to fight hard to make it to the Australian Open, almost losing in the first round of qualifying and going to two tiebreaker sets in the second. However, this past week at the Adelaide International Alcaraz made it to the round of 16 beating number one seed David Goffin in straight sets with the senior player claiming; “He just killed me.” His first-round battle against Botic van de Zandschulp will be a test of nerves for the teenager as to whether he can perform at the top level.
The only non-Australian wildcard entry in the men’s singles Nagal has a challenge ahead of him. Having previously competed in two US Opens, Nagal’s best at a Grand Slam was in 2020 where he lost in straight sets to Dominic Thiem. In Australia, Negal will be battling experience going up against Ričardas Berankis his eighth Australian Open.
Failing to qualify for the Australian 2020 Vukic worked hard making it to the main draw of the French Open. The hard work in 2020 improved his ranking and earned him a wildcard entry into this year’s Australian Open. The Australian will have to fight to make it to the second round, facing off against the 19th seen Karen Khachanov.
Cressy’s singles career hasn’t been as strong as his doubles, however, he has claimed two ATP Challenger titles and two Futures titles. In 2020 he developed a rivalry with Arthur Rinderknech, each claiming a Challenger title over the other in a final. A first-round matchup against Japan’s Taro Daniel will be a difficult battle for Cressy.
Coppejans junior career saw him taking out the 2012 Junior French Open title, however, his senior career hasn’t been as rewarding. Only previously having made it to two French Opens, strongest performances have been in Challenger and Futures series tournaments having made 21 finals and claiming 11 titles. His first-round opponent Jiří Veselý will be a test for Coppejans.
The 27-year-old Russian has been close to breaking into the Grand Slams for the past few years, coming unstuck in the third round of qualifying, this year he has finally broken through. In 2020 he made four ATP Challenger Series finals, taking home two, whilst providing a challenge for Stan Wawrinka in one of the losses. His first-round opponent Gianluca Mager, is also debuting at this year’s Australian Open.
Macháč made his Grand Slam debut in France last year with a five-set loss to world number 29 Taylor Fritz. Since then he breezed through Australian Open qualifying, just dropping 14 games to earn his spot in the main draw of the Grand Slam. To make it to the second round he’ll be taking on Mario Vilella Martínez.
Botic van de Zandschulp
The Dutch player made it all the way to the quarter-final of the Adelaide international this week, managing to steal a set from world number 20 Karen Khachanov. Van de Zanschulp will up against fellow debutant Carlos Alcaraz in the first round.
Torpegaard performed well in qualifying, losing in the third round Tomáš Macháč. Despite the loss, he was given a ticket to his first Grand Slam due to the withdrawal of American Steve Johnson. The 26-year-old had a strong performance at the Adelaide International earlier this month, making it to the second round in straight sets against Pedro Martinez. He’ll be up against South African Lloyd Harris in the first round.
Silva’s been chasing a Grand Slam debut since 2016, getting as close as the third round of qualifying for the French Open in 2020. To qualify he had to beat the first seed in qualification Grégoire Barrère, beating him in straight sets in the third round. In the first round, he’ll be taking on Australian Nick Kyrgios.
Mager’s most notable win to date was his victory over Domenic Thiem at the Rio Open last year. Ranked 99th in the world Mager went to the US and French Opens in 2020, losing in the first round at both events. To claim his first grand slam win, it will take a victory over Aslan Karatsev.
The world number 98 has never made it past the first round of a Grand Slam. With six Challenger and five Futures titles, Hanfmann has the experience to progress beyond the first round of his first-ever Australian Open. However, he’ll have to beat the seventh seed Andrey Rublev if he wants to progress further.
The most unlikely of stories in the Australian Open is the inclusion of Li Tu as a wild card, taking the spot that had been offered to Andy Murray. The 24-year-old juniors coach revived his playing career during the pandemic, playing in the UTR series against other Australians and notching a significant win record. His round one opponent is Feliciano Lopez.