With Andy Murray’s decline in recent years due to injury setbacks and surgery, there have been few British players regularly picking up titles on the ATP Tour or in the Grand Slams. Kyle Edmund rose to prominence a few years ago but has since dropped off once again, and continues to be sidelined through injury. With the 2021 Australian Open just around the corner, it’s difficult to see a British player having a major impact in Melbourne.
But with a bit of luck and momentum, there is perhaps a chance that a British player could come from left-field and cause a few surprises, perhaps proving the tennis betting odds wrong at the same time. Let’s have a look at the British contenders in both the men’s and women’s singles that will be hoping to go on a deep run at the Australian Open.
2020 was a pretty shocking year for Johanna Konta, as she failed to progress past the second round in any Grand Slam event. It was a disappointing decline, especially when you consider the success she had the year before, where she consistently reached the latter stages of the Slams.
But a new year brings a fresh start, and Konta will be hoping to prove her mettle as she heads to Melbourne. It’s clear that Konta has the talent and determination to win a Grand Slam, and if she hits form at the Australian Open, you just never know.
Britain’s current number one men’s player is Dan Evans, but the 30-year-old’s Grand Slam record doesn’t inspire much hope for his chances at the Australian Open. He reached the fourth round in Melbourne back in 2017, but that is his best result at a Grand Slam event, and he’ll have his work cut out if he wants to go on a deep run in at the Australian Open this year.
That said, there are few players as passionate and determined as Evans, and if he can get on a roll, then perhaps his moment in the spotlight will present itself.
Another British player who has suffered with injuries, Heather Watson recently made her comeback and will be hoping to get back to full form at the Australian Open. But similar to Evans, Watson does not boast a good record in the Slams, having failed to get past the third round in any of the big four events. Could 2021 be the year that changes?
With the news that Murray had tested positive for coronavirus before he was supposed to fly out to Australia, it remains to be seen whether the Scot will get to compete in Melbourne at all. It would be a bitter pill to swallow if he was unable to take part, and he’ll be hoping that the powers that be show some leniency and come up with a solution that will allow him to make the tournament.
Of course, Murray’s form has been nothing much to shout about since he returned to the game following his lengthy rehabilitation from hip surgery, but he’ll be hoping to get on the right track in 2021.
One of the best stories to come out of Australian Open qualifying was the success of Francesca Jones. Aged just 20, she secured her place in her maiden Grand Slam by defeating China’s Lu Jiajing in straight sets.
Jones has had it tough in her career, having been born with a rare genetic condition called Ectrodactyly Ectodermal Dysplasia, which means she has fewer digits and toes. But she hasn’t let this stop her, and it’ll be great to see her step out onto the court in Melbourne as a reward for her fierce determination and belief.