The 2021 Australian Open will begin with five Grand Slam champions gracing the hard court inside Rod Laver Arena.
Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams, Dominic Thiem, Simona Halep and Novak Djokovic will kick off the two-week event with opening-round matches on Monday in Melbourne, Australia.
Because of the time difference between the United States and Australia (Melbourne is 16 hours ahead of ET), Osaka and Williams will start their title quests Sunday night in the States.
Djokovic will open the first title defense of the tournament, as he is scheduled to close Monday's slate on the main court.
Sofia Kenin, who also advanced to the 2020 French Open final, will defend a Grand Slam crown for the first time in her career. She starts play Tuesday along with Rafael Nadal and women's singles top seed Ashleigh Barty.
Australian Open Schedule
ESPN and ESPN2 will have coverage throughout the tournament.
Most of the early-round coverage will begin at 7 p.m. ET and extend into the early hours, per ESPN's official press release on the event.
The women's singles final will air at 3:30 a.m. ET on February 19. The men's singles championship will start at the same time on February 20.
You couldn't ask for a better lineup of stars to lead off the season's first major.
Osaka and Williams won two of the past four Australian Open women's singles titles, Thiem lost to Djokovic in last year's men's singles final, Halep owns two Grand Slam titles and Djokovic has won in Australia on eight occasions.
Djokovic is the odds-on favorite to win the men's draw at +125 (bet $100 to win $125), per DraftKings Sportsbook.
The initial thought would lead you to believe Nadal is the second favorite, but that title belongs to fourth seed Daniil Medvedev, which means you can get the 20-time Grand Slam champion at great value to start the tournament.
Nadal has not won the Australian Open since 2009, but backing him to win could be worth it at long odds of +650. Thiem carries the same value as the Spaniard.
Osaka is the favorite to win the women's draw, but she carries much longer odds than Djokovic at +500. Barty is second on the odds list at +600.
Because of the large amount of previous Grand Slam champions in the women's field, Kenin is listed at +1700 despite being the reigning champion. Kenin and 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek (+2500) carry the best-value odds of any recent Grand Slam winners.
Swiatek should be one of the players to watch in Australia, as she will try to follow up her surprise victory at Roland-Garros as a seeded player with a target on her back for the first time.
The men's bracket is harder to break through, but keep an eye on Italian teenager Jannik Sinner, who advanced to the quarterfinals at the French Open. Sinner may not make a winning run in Australia like Swiatek did in France, but he could make an impact through a potential first-round upset against No. 11 Denis Shapovalov.
Information obtained from AusOpen.com.
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