2024 Australian Open: Tennis stars set to return while question marks linger over Emma Raducanu
Several high-profile players are set to make their comebacks at the 2024 Australian Open although there are still doubts over one or two players.
The hard-court Grand Slam is only three months away as the tournament is set to get underway on January 14 with the women’s final taking place on Saturday, January 28 and the men’s final scheduled for Sunday, January 28.
Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley has held his traditional October press conference and he confirmed that several stars are due to make their comebacks with Rafael Nadal the biggest name on the list.
But who else besides Nadal is set to line up at Melbourne Park next year?
It is sometimes easy to forget that Alcaraz missed this year’s Australian Open after he picked up a hamstring injury during training. The Spaniard was due to be the top seed as he was ranked at No 1 in the world before the start of the tournament, but had to pull out of the event.
But if all goes well, then the two-time Grand Slam winner will make his return next year in what will be only his third appearance at Melbourne Park. He reached the second round in 2021 and the third round in 2022.
The Australian’s injury woes started before the 2023 season got underway, but he was hopeful of playing at his home Grand Slam and even took part in a high-profile exhibition match with Novak Djokovic at Rod Laver Arena.
However, he announced his withdrawal a few days before the start of the tournament due to a knee injury. He underwent surgery and has played only one competitive match this year.
There had been suggestions that Kyrgios could walk away from the sport, but Tiley insists he is motivated to return next year and will be able to use his protected ranking to enter.
Two-time Australian Open champion Osaka announced on the eve of the 2023 tournament that she would miss this year’s edition and not long after she revealed that she was expecting her first child.
The former world No 1 went on to miss the entire 2023 season as she gave birth in July, but has indicated she will be back in action in early 2024 with the Australian Open pencilled in.
Like Osaka, three-time Grand Slam winner Kerber missed this year’s Australian Open after announcing in August last year that she was pregnant.
The 2016 Melbourne winner gave birth in February and has stated that she intends to return to active tennis at the start of the 2024 season with the United Cup set to be her first event before she returns to Grand Slam tennis at the Australian Open.
Former world No 1 Wozniacki won the Australian Open in 2018 and two years later she announced her retirement from the game with her third-round exit in 2020 her final professional game.
Or so we thought as the Dane announced her comeback in June this year and played at the US Open, reaching the fourth round before losing to eventual champion Coco Gauff.
Wozniacki, though, will need a wildcard to play next year, but Tiley has confirmed that she will feature.
Ukrainian Svitolina is set to make it a quartet of mothers who will return in 2024 as she gave birth to her first child, a daughter named Skai, in October 2022 and only returned to action in April.
But she enjoyed some remarkable results at the French Open as she reached the quarter-final before losing in the semi-final at Wimbledon.
With Ashleigh Barty retiring in 2022, Tomljanovic was the great Australian women’s hope ahead of this year’s tournament. However, she withdrew a few days before the start of her home major because of a knee injury.
Tomljanovic ended up playing only three matches this year – with two of them coming at the US Open.
Like Nadal, Raducanu competed at the 2023 Australian Open but she then missed the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open after undergoing surgery on her ankle and both her wrists.
The 2021 US Open champion’s recovery has been slow and, as things stand, no return date has been set, but there are high hopes that the 20-year-old will play at Melbourne Park next year.
READ MORE: Australian Open to welcome back mums Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki
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