Do warm-up tournaments boost AO title chances?

Published by Daniel Irvine

DISAPPOINTED: Rafael Nadal has delayed the start of his 2018 season due to a knee injury; Getty Images

World No.1 Rafael Nadal is out of this week’s Brisbane International with a knee injury.

Six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic is missing Doha to recover from an elbow complaint.

New mother and 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams has opted not to compete in any official lead-up tournament before her expected Australian Open return.

So, what does this mean for all their Grand Slam title chances in the year’s first major?

History suggests the soon-to-be-crowned Australian Open champions will be competing in tournaments during the opening week of the season, as the eventual champions have done in the past five years.

Year AO champion Week one event
2017 Roger Federer Hopman Cup
Serena Williams Auckland
2016 Novak Djokovic Doha
Angelique Kerber Brisbane
2015 Novak Djokovic Doha
Serena Williams Hopman Cup
2014 Stan Wawrinka Chennai
Li Na Shenzhen
2013 Novak Djokovic Hopman Cup
Victoria Azarenka Brisbane

QUIZ: Were you paying attention in the off-season?

The last time the eventual Australian Open men’s singles champion sat out the opening week of the season was in 2012, when Novak Djokovic contested no lead-in tournaments after steering Serbia to a Davis Cup title in late 2011.

Victoria Azarenka won the Australian Open 2012 title after beginning her season in week two in Sydney. The last female singles champion not to contest any lead-in tournaments was Maria Sharapova in 2008.

FIND OUT: Where the top 10 players are in week one

Will history repeat in 2018? Time will soon tell.

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