Melbourne, Australia ― With a new year comes a new tennis season, kicking off – as it always does – in the Southern Hemisphere and Australia’s famous summer.

The Australian Open will kick off on Sunday, January 14, marking the first 15-day staging in the event’s history. Many top players, with Yonex racquets in their hands, will be competing in the “Happy Slam”.

Unstoppable Rybakina is aiming for one better

Elena Rybakina (KAZ) had the best start of the 2024 season, winning the WTA 500 Brisbane International with five clean straight-setters in a row. She lost just 15 games in five matches, adding an exclamation point to that run in the final, defeating Aryna Sabalenka 6-0, 6-3. It marked a rematch of last year’s Australian Open women’s final,

with Rybakina turning the tables to register the most lopsided scoreline of their eight- match rivalry. The hard-hitting Rybakina now takes that momentum to Melbourne, where she’d like the trophy and not the silver platter in 2024.

Ruud off to a rocket start

A new year could be the beginning of a new career for Casper Ruud (NOR). After struggling at the end of 2023, Ruud won all three of his singles matches at the United Cup to kick off the season. He was also in full force in doubles, leading his country to the quarterfinals. Last November, he fell out of the top 10 rankings, having resided there since August of 2021. However, that will be a motivation for him, especially defending just second-round points from last year.

Can American “Three Musketeers” write new history?

Tommy PaulBen Shelton and Frances Tiafoe―they were all in the Elite Eight at the last US Open, just four months ago. Tiafoe, with his explosive power, Paul, with his all-around strength, and Shelton, with his out-of-this-world serving that can clock 225 km/h. These three unique players are friends off of the court – rivals who inspire and motivate each other. They all have strong memories in Melbourne, too, with Paul making the semis last year after beating Shelton in the quarterfinals… four years after Tiafoe had his breakout run to the last eight in 2019.

Another American, world No.5 Jessica Pegula, will look to advance to a major semi for the first time, having lost five previous quarter-finals.

Old and new power makes headlines in Melbourne

Linda Noskova (CZE), who just turned 19 in November, is one of the hottest young players in this tournament. She is currently ranked 51st in the world, but the fact that this is her Australian Open main draw debut proves how quickly she is improving.

Stan Wawrinka (SUI), ranked 56th, is a dark horse on the men’s side. As the 38-year-old three-time Grand Slam champion, and 2014 AO champ, Stan the man is the indomitable man. And not done yet.

The tournament will also see the return of two mothers who are both multi-Grand Slam winners.

One is Naomi Osaka (JPN). The two-time Australian Open champion gave birth just last July, but she showed in Brisbane that she is still as powerful as ever. In the second round against Karolina Pliskova (CZE), Osaka fell in a third-set tiebreak in a quality affair, showing she is ready to compete at the top level once again.

Another mom-on-the-comeback is Angelique Kerber (GER). Kerber gave birth last February and returned to the United Cup last week after a year and a half absence. She won only one of her five singles matches (all against formidable opponents), but also competed in mixed doubles. With enough matches under her belt, she is ready to challenge at the Australian Open.

Queen & King of the Wheelchair tennis continue respective dynasties

The leaders of the wheelchair tennis world are both members of Team Yonex. Diede de Groot, the absolute queen, has won 13 consecutive Grand Slam singles titles. (Yes, you read that right—13 in a row!) She has been unbeaten in the last three years across singles, and is chasing the legacy of another Dutch wheelchair legend, Esther Vergeer.

Tokito Oda (JPN) won two Grand Slam titles last year at the age of 17. Last year in Melbourne, the Japanese teen reached the final for the first time. But that is the only beginning of his journey to be the greatest of all time… a title held by his own countryman, the now-retired Shingo Kunieda. Coming back to Melbourne as world No. 1, Oda has only one goal: to win the title.