99 out of top 100 men playing, 97 of top 100 woman playin Aust Open, Article in here!
Top Players Converge on Melbourne
Ninety-nine of the top 100 men and 97 of the top 100 women look set to converge on Melbourne in January for the Australian Open 2003. Among the world's top women players who have signed up are triple champion Martina Hingis, defending champion Jennifer Capriati and both Serena and Venus Williams.
With entries having closed at the beginning of the week, only Todd Martin in the men, and the recently retired Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, a pregnant Sandrine Testud, and Jelena Dokic indicated that they won't be making the trip 'Down Under' in January.
The cut-off for the men's event currently stands at 103 and the women's at 110.
The 128 player draw for the men's singles comprises 104 direct entries, 16 qualifiers and up to eight wildcards. The women's singles comprises 108 direct entries, 12 qualifiers and up to eight wildcards.
"It's not just the number of top players that make this year's field so exciting," said Australian Open Chief Executive Paul McNamee, "but also the depth, which makes picking a winner a tough one to call.
"It's great to see that triple champion Martina has indicated that she wants to play, so like her we'll be keeping our fingers crossed that she'll be fit in time for January.
"In the men's you have to say that on current form Lleyton (Hewitt) and Andre (Agassi) are the ones to watch, but standing in their way are players of the calibre of former finalists Marat Safin and Carlos Moya, or world No.4 Juan Carlos Ferrero. Lleyton has said this is the Grand Slam he wants to win and Andre has said he's hungry for more success in 2003, so we can expect a great battle ahead."
In the women's game it will be fascinating to see if Serena can continue her dominance and complete the 'Serena Slam' by adding the Australian Open to her list of Grand Slam titles from 2002. However her sister Venus may have something to say about that, as will Jennifer Capriati who will be looking to make it a hat-trick of Australian Open victories.
Then there's players like Kim Clijsters who picked up the season-ending Championships by defeating Serena, and not forgetting the rapidly improving Daniela Hantuchova who will be keen to add a singles title to her mixed doubles success here at Melbourne Park.
"All in all, with so many of the world's top players in the field we can expect that there is going to be a feast of top quality entertainment and action at Melbourne Park in January," said McNamee.
Players will be competing for a total prizepool of AUS$18.2 million, with $1,127,850 to the winners of both the men's and women's singles alone.