What you need to know ahead of the Australian Open

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The Australian Open kicks off on January 19, being the first major tournament of the 2015 tennis calendar. As can be surmised from its name it is held in Australia – Melbourne to be exact. Players will be vying for the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup (the men’s title) and the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup (the women’s). In addition to the singles competition, women’s and men’s doubles will also be played, Melbourne Park being the stage where it’s all set to go down.
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The tournment runs for about two weeks and is scheduled to conclude on February 1. Switzerland’s Stansilas Wawrinka is the defending men’s champion having won last year’s title and is currently seeded at number 4 in the world according to the most recent rankings. On the women’s side Chinese national, Li Na won last year’s title but won’t be returning to defend it following her injury induced retirement. 32 playesrs will battle it out on both the men’s and women’s sides

novakSeeded ahead of Wawrinka are Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. On the women’s side, world number 1 and 2, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova will be on opposite sides of the tournament draw. Williams has won the Australian Open five times, but the last time was in 2010. She has also lost two matches already this year but if she wins the tournament it will be her 19th Grand Slam singles title. Wiliams will face Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck in Round 1 of the competition.

Following the Australian Open, the other major grand slam tournaments will be the French Open at the end of May, Wimbledon at the end of June, and the U.S. Open at the end of August.