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Australian Open 2021 day one: Serena Williams in action, Naomi Osaka into second round – live! | Sport

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Preamble

Here we are then. In the midst of a global pandemic, the first tennis grand slam of the year is about to get under way at Melbourne Park, with some fans in attendance, and with some vague semblance of normality. Incredible really, and a testament to how well Australia has handled Covid-19 so far.

Things won’t be exactly how they usually are, of course, and the buildup to the tournament has been anything but normal – “prison-like conditions” in hotel quarantine, whingeing players, Covid scares, a cancelled day of a full day of tennis, and a lack of proper preparation time for many players have seen to that. Then there’s the distinct absence of a level playing field, given the events of the past year – and recent weeks. Quite how that will impact the tournament remains to be seen.

We’ll get an initial idea soon enough; play on day one begins at 11am AEDT, as world No 3 Naomi Osaka takes to Rod Laver Arena to take on Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova first up. Serena Williams follows against Germany’s Laura Siegemund before Dominic Thiem gets his campaign under way. And there’s plenty of other interest elsewhere, with the likes of Stan Wawrinka, Alex Zverev and Bianca Andreescu also hitting the court during a busy day session.

It’s a long day ahead. Do get in touch via email or of Twitter (@mike_hytner), if you have anything on your mind. Otherwise, let’s crack on.

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