Australian Open 2013: Definitive Guide for Entire Tennis Tournament
The Australian Open is finally here, and the excitement and expectation that comes with the year's first Grand Slam tournament is peaking.
The tournament will start Monday, Jan. 14 and will run all the way through Jan. 27.
The first Grand Slam of the tennis season is held at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, as the world’s best tennis players head Down Under for a first shot at history in 2013.
On the women’s side, defending champ Victoria Azarenka won her first Grand Slam in last year’s Australian Open. She will try to win it all again but will have to hold off top challengers like Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, Agnieszka Radwanska, Li Na, Caroline Wozniacki and Petra Kvitova.
Let's take a look at the definitive guide for the entire tournament.
Extreme Heat Policy (EHP)
Lovely, laid-back Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria located in the southeast of Australia.
It has the second highest population in Australia, and it is one of the hottest climates the tennis pros will play on.
That is the reason why the Australian Open is the only Grand Slam tournament in the world that has an Extreme Heat Policy (EHP.)
According to the tournament website:
The Australian Open Extreme Heat Policy (EHP) will be applied at the Referee's discretion and may be altered at any time.
At the Referee's discretion, when the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature only (WBGT) is equal to or above the pre-determined threshold, the Referee may suspend the commencement of any further matches on outside courts.
Fortunately for the players, the 10-day forecast predicts that the temperatures will hover around 75 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the the Australian Open, with only one extremely hot day expected on Jan. 17.
The Venue, Melbourne Park
The Australian Open is played on the tennis courts at Melbourne Park, which has been home to the year's first Grand Slam tournament since 1988.
The complex has a total of 17 courts, but the top players and matches are held on its two primary courts, Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena, which are equipped with retractable roofs.
This is of great help when extreme heatwaves hit the tournament, since play can be resumed indoors.
The third court where you will see other important matches is Margaret Court Arena, which was previously known as Show Court 1.
The courts were resurfaced prior to the 2008 Australian Open with a blue Plexicushion surface, giving Melbourne Park a fresh new look.
One of the best things is that when the Australian Open is not on, the general public can play on the same courts graced by the world's best, take a tour of Rod Laver Arena and wander through Garden Square, where the busts of dozens of Aussie champions and their achievements are on display.
For further information about tennis Down Under, click here to visit the Tennis Australia website.
With a record total purse of nearly $31 million, the Australian Open will be giving more money this year than ever before, especially to the early-round losers.
First-round losers will receive $27,600, a 32.7 percent increase from last year; second-round losers will get $45,500, up 36.6 percent; third-round losers will receive $71,000, a 30 percent increase.
The 2013 singles champions at Melbourne Park will each collect $2.43 million.
One important note is that all dollar figures are Australian, which, according to XE's universal currency converter, is close to par with U.S. dollars—1.00 AUD to 1.05360 USD.
Here is a breakdown of the prize money distribution from last year to this year for the singles players.
For more information on the prize money for the tournament, visit the official page here.
In Search of History
History is part of the Australian Open, and this year we could see history in the making in the men's singles tournament.
Novak Djokovic is going for his fourth overall singles title, which would tie him with Andre Agassi and Roger Federer for the most titles in the Open Era. Roy Emerson is the all-time leader with six.
Also worth noting is that a Federer win would place him as the Open Era winner of the most titles, with five.
But the record to look for is Djokovic going for his third consecutive Australian Open crown, which would untie him from the other nine greats with whom he shares honors of winning back-to-back titles in the Open Era.
He would be the only male player in Open Era history to achieve the three-peat. Emerson won five consecutive titles on the pre-Open Era.
On a side note, Serena Williams is working on trying to win the non-calendar Grand Slam for the second time in her career.
She did it when she won the French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open in 2002, and Australian Open in 2003.
Williams is also the female with the most wins in the Open Era with five. She could add to that record with another win this year.
Melbourne's current time zone offset is UTC/GMT +11 hours. This means that when matches are scheduled to start at 11:00 a.m. in Melbourne, New York is 16 hours behind at 7:00 p.m. EST.
Australian Open 2013 coverage on ESPN2 and Tennis Channel begins Jan. 13 with coverage from Melbourne Park.
Coverage on ESPN2 begins Sunday, Jan. 13, at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Australian Open 2013 TV Schedule
All times Eastern. Each day begins at 6:00 a.m. ET. (L)=Live
Sunday, Jan. 13 — Early Rounds, 6:30 p.m. (L), ESPN2
Monday, Jan. 14 — Early Rounds, 2 p.m., 9 p.m. (L), ESPN2; Early Rounds, 7 p.m. (L), TENNIS
Tuesday, Jan. 15 — Early Rounds, 2 p.m., 9 p.m. (L), ESPN2; Early Rounds, 7 p.m. (L), TENNIS
Wednesday, Jan. 16 — Early Rounds, 2 p.m., 11 p.m. (L), ESPN2; Early Rounds, 7 p.m. (L), TENNIS
Thursday, Jan. 17 — Early Rounds, 2 p.m., 11 p.m. (L), ESPN2; Early Rounds, 7 p.m. (L), TENNIS
Friday, Jan. 18 — Early Rounds, 2 p.m., 9 p.m. (L), ESPN2; Early Rounds, 7 p.m. (L), TENNIS
Saturday, Jan. 19 — Early Rounds, 7 a.m., ESPN2; Round of 16, 7 p.m. (L), TENNIS; Round of 16, 9 p.m. (L), 3 a.m. (L), ESPN2
Sunday, Jan. 20 — Round of 16, 7 p.m. (L), TENNIS; Round of 16, 9 p.m. (L), 3:30 a.m. (L), ESPN2
Monday, Jan. 21 — Quarterfinals, 7 p.m. (L), TENNIS; Quarterfinals, 9 p.m. (L), 3:30 a.m. (L), ESPN2
Tuesday, Jan. 22 — Quarterfinals, 2 p.m., ESPN2; Quarterfinals, 7 p.m. (L), TENNIS; Quarterfinals, 9 p.m. (L), 3:30 a.m. (L), ESPN2
Wednesday, Jan. 23 — Quarterfinals, 2 p.m., ESPN2; To Be Announced, 7 p.m. (L), TENNIS; Women’s Semifinals, 9:30 p.m. (L), ESPN2; Men’s Semifinal 1, 3:30 a.m. (L), ESPN2
Thursday, Jan. 24 — Men’s Semifinal 1, 12 p.m., ESPN2; Mixed Doubles Semifinal and Women’s Doubles Final, 11 p.m. (L), TENNIS; Men’s Semifinal 2, 3:30 a.m. (L), ESPN2
Friday, Jan. 25 — Men’s Semifinal 2, 12 p.m., ESPN2; Women’s Championship, 3 a.m. (L), ESPN2
Saturday, Jan. 26 — Men’s Doubles Final, 5:30 a.m. (L), TENNIS; Women’s Championship, 9 a.m. and 10 p.m., ESPN2; Mixed Doubles Final, 12:30 a.m., TENNIS; Men’s Championship, 3 a.m. (L), ESPN2
Sunday, Jan. 27 — Men’s Championship, 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., ESPN2
When the women's singles draw came out, the big news was that Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams were drawn in the same half.
That is great news for fans, but bad news for the defending champ, who is just 1-12 lifetime against Williams.
The woman celebrating would be Maria Sharapova. She's had her share of problems against the "Big Two," and having Williams on the other side of the draw means she would only have to face one of them to win.
Victoria Azarenka's Quarter
Top-seed Azarenka is on the top quarter of the draw. She opens against Romania's Monica Niculescu, and her path to the round of 16 looks paved.
There, she could meet with Italy's Roberta Vinci (16), who has been playing solidly of late and is in a section of the draw along with American Varvara Lepchenko (21) and Russian Elena Vesnina.
In the quarterfinals, Italian Sara Errani (7) is the highest seed and has to improve on her poor start to make it to face the defending champ.
She will probably face a motivated and apparently healthy Svetlana Kuznetsova, who lost in the quarters at Sydney to Angelique Kerber but beat Caroline Wozniacki (10) in the process.
Wozniacki is also in Errani's section, but she will have to get past the dangerous, hard-hitting German Sabine Lisicki in her opening round and, later, probably Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (24).
Serena Williams’ Quarter
A 15-time Grand Slam champion, five-time Australian Open champ and third-seed, Williams is on a quest to win the non-calendar Grand Slam, and she is looking great.
Taking a look at her draw for any possible early exit—which she is historically prone to in the Grand Slams—no name pops up as a possible surprise for her. She should make it to the round of 16 without breaking much of a sweat.
Once there, it is tough to predict she will be upset. Maria Kirilenko (14) or Yanina Wickmayer (20) are the seeds who could face her. Kirilenko has never beaten Williams, and Wickmayer has never faced her.
Petra Kvitova (8), the 2011 Wimbledon champ, is the highest seed on her quarter and could be her quarterfinal opponent. But her recent play makes her an unlikely opponent for Williams.
The other possible contenders in the quarterfinal include Kvitova's first-round opponent, 2010 French Open winner Francesca Schiavone, Britain's rising youngster Laura Robson, or the other seeds, Czech Lucie Safarova (17) and Russian Nadia Petrova (21).
Agnieszka Radwanska’s Quarter
Fourth-seed Radwanska is off to a hot start in 2013. She is 9-0 and won the titles at Auckland and Sydney.
An early challenge for her could come on the third round at the hands of hard-hitting German Mona Barthel (32), or the other British young gun in the draw, Heather Watson.
In the round of 16, she could face the winner of the possible clash of two Serbian former No. 1 players, Ana Ivanovic (12) and Jelena Jankovic. But neither is expected to give Radwanska problems.
On the other side of her quarter, 2011 French Open champ and 2011 Australian Open finalist Li Na (6) is the top seed.
She seems to be getting back on track lately and could be expected to face the 2011 U.S. Open champ, Australian Samantha Stosur (9), on her round of 16.
Stosur has been prone to early exits and will have tough challenges from the dangerous Chinese Jie Zheng in the second round, and Germany's Julia Goerges (18) in the third.
But the way Radwanska is playing, it looks like she will have enough firepower to make it to an anticipated semifinal match against No. 2 seed Maria Sharapova.
Maria Sharapova’s Quarter
French Open champ Sharapova has not played this year because of a collarbone injury that kept her out of the Brisbane International.
That could spell trouble for her, as she could be rusty in the early going. Her third-round match could be against former No. 1 Venus Williams, the 2003 champ.
In the round of 16, she could face Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova (15), who is fresh off her final appearance at the Sydney tournament.
On the other side of her quarter, the highest seed is Germany's Angelique Kerber (5), who is coming off her best season last year.
Possible challenges for Kerber on her way to a quarterfinal match with Sharapova could be Austria's Tamira Paszek (30) or American Madison Keys on the round of 32.
In the round of 16, French Marion Bartoli (11) is the favorite to get there. But she will have possibly the toughest first round of any seed when she faces Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues. Should she get by, Russia's Ekaterina Makarova (19) could be awaiting her.
For Roger Federer fans, the path that the all-time great and second seed will have to travel to a possible win will be a bumpy one.
For starters, he is in the same side as third seed and U.S. champion Andy Murray.
Defending champ and No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic drew fourth seed David Ferrer as his possible semifinals opponent.
Notable Injury Absentees
Rafael Nadal is the most notable absentee from the tournament, having withdrawn due to a stomach virus that has delayed his long anticipated return to play from injury.
Also worth noting is that the U.S. top player John Isner has also pulled out as a result of a bruised bone in his knee.
Novak Djokovic's Quarter
Djokovic's draw is the least difficult of all the top four seeds. He is almost certain to make it to the quarterfinals. He has an easy first-up task after drawing little-known Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu in the opening round.
The top seed on his side of the quarter is Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka (15).
On the lower part of his quarter, Czech Tomas Berdych (5) looks like the only real obstacle to prevent the top-seeded Serbian from reaching the semifinals.
Argentine Juan Monaco (11), Spaniard Fernando Verdasco (22), Austrian Jurgen Meltzer (26) and the always-dangerous Belgian Xavier Malisse are all within Berdych's side of the quarter and can provide the Czech with an upset—something that he would be unlikely to replicate against Djokovic.
David Ferrer's Quarter
Due to Nadal's absence, Ferrer inherited the fourth seed and is in possibly the most unpredictable of all the quarters in the men's draw.
Ferrer's first challenge could come if he faces the always exciting Cypriot Marcos Bagdhatis (28) in the third round. Everyone remembers Bagdhatis for his great run to the finals in 2006, where he upset then-third and -fourth seeds Andy Roddick and David Nalbandian along the way.
In the round of 16, Japan's Kei Nishikori (16), who had his best year last season, could be his opponent. But Nishikori must get past Russia's Mikhail Youzhny (23), who has been a quarterfinalist at all four Grand Slam tournaments.
From the bottom part of Ferrer's quarter should come Serb Janko Tipsarevic (8). His recent play makes him the likely candidate to face Ferrer in the quarterfinals.
Tipsarevic will likely have his biggest threat coming from either Spain's Nicolas Almagro (10) or Poland's Jerry Janowicz (24), who is coming of his best year in 2012.
But the consistency of the tireless Spanish warrior Ferrer makes him the likely favorite to make it to a semifinal date with Djokovic.
Andy Murray's Quarter
No. 3 Murray is on a mission.
He is showing a newly bulked physique and comes from his breakthrough year in which he won his finals matches against Federer in the Olympics and Djokovic in the U.S. Open, earning his first Grand Slam title.
He comes from defending his Brisbane Open title this past week and is looking to win the Australian Open for the first time after finishing runner-up in 2010 and 2011.
He starts against Dutchman Robin Haase, and the way Murray has been playing almost makes him a lock to make it to his quarterfinal match against Argentina’s world No. 7, Juan Martín del Potro.
If France's Gilles Simon (14) is healthy, he could make it to the round of 32 to face the always-dangerous Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov (18).
The winner would then face Murray in the round of 16.
On the top part of Murray's quarter is Del Potro.
Del Potro's path to the quarters also looks paved, with possible small road blocks in the likes of Spain's Marcel Granollers (30) in the third round and Marin Cilic (12) or Andreas Seppi (21) in the fourth.
Roger Federer's Quarter
Federer finds himself in the toughest quarter of the draw.
Former world No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko is always a tough customer and should be Federer's second-round opponent.
Up next in the third round should be crowd favorite and rising star Australian youngster Bernard Tomic, who upset Djokovic in the Hopman Cup and just won his first tournament at the Sydney International.
In the round of 16 could be awaiting either one of two very dangerous opponents: hard-hitting Canadian Milos Raonic (13) or the crafty German Philipp Kohlschreiber (17).
Things don't get any easier before Federer's anticipated semifinal against Murray. Fans are already salivating at the possibility of a quarterfinal match between Federer and another crowd favorite, acrobatic Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Tsonga's biggest hurdle could come from fellow countryman Richard Gasquet (19) in the round of 16.