TO keep the Australian Open on track, daily testing regimes have been introduced for the entire workforce on duty at Melbourne Park this month.

And the entry process into Australia and then to accreditation has been tightened.

“The process of coming in is a 72-hour test before you get in, a negative test when you arrive, isolate until you get a negative result,” TA boss Craig Tiley said.

“You have to show proof of that negative test to get your accreditation, and then there’s a whole bunch of protocol to coach the players on what they need to be doing.”

Russian world No.26 Daria Kasatkina, pictured below, said players were delighted to be back in Melbourne.

“We feel much better compared to last year,” Kasatkina said.

“If it was to be quarantine [again] this year, I’m doubting that many players would [choose] to come. But now it’s a completely different picture.”

THE ATP Cup began in Sydney yesterday, but drew little reaction from locals.

Matches were played in front of empty stands at Ken Rosewall Arena, with media saying a combination of a late schedule announcement, New Year’s Day and COVID-19 contributed to the poor crowds.

No official crowd figure was announced by Tennis Australia for the day one session, but there were barely 500 fans in attendance.

Team Germany take a stroll through Sydney.

AUSTRALIAN Open 2022 will mark the 100th anniversary of women’s singles competition at the year’s first major tournament.

Margaret Molesworth beat Esna Boyd 6-3, 10-9 in the final.

The 1922 Australasian Championships took place on outdoor Grass courts at the White City Tennis Club, Sydney, Australia.

It was the 15th edition of the Australian Championships, the third held in Sydney, and the third Grand Slam tournament of the year, as it took place in December.

Margaret Molesworth

SERENA Williams may not be at the Australian Open but the 40-year-old tennis superstar posted a video this week with her daughter Olympia, four, in matching outfits.

The duo wore white short sleeve shirts tucked into pink skirts and used an Instagram filter to add headbands and sunglasses to the both of them.

“My morning,” Williams captioned her video with a laughing emoji. In the video, Serena said to her daughter, “I don’t need to be in the camera. You have too much pizzazz girl.”

TENNIS legend Martina Navratilova believes Ash Barty could still be the world No.1 come the end of 2022.

“At the end of 2022, I would be hard-pressed to pick somebody over her. No.1. she’s the most complete player out there, Navratilova said on the WTA website this week.

“Three years as the No.1, although some of it was aided by COVID-19, and some of it unaided, because she couldn’t play as much as she wanted to. So it was kind of a wash. Chances are she would have been No.1, with or without COVID-19.

Naomi Osaka in training in Melbourne.

“She’s also well-rested and has had time to improve her game even more. So everybody’s behind, and it’s going to be hard for those nipping at her heels to catch up. Can anybody be healthy enough, consistent enough to take away the No.1 ranking? And play better than her for the entire year? If they can, I’ll take my hat off. But I don’t see that happening if she’s healthy.”

One name springs to mind, if she can put her past mental issues behind her: Naomi Osaka.

Naomi Osaka arrives in Australia.

NOVAK Djokovic had been head-to-head with Australian health officials ever since organisers made COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for participation in the tournament, but its still unclear if he is vaccinated, or he will defend the title he won in Melbourne last February.

Serbian media outlet The Informer claimed on Thursday he would not be competing this year after he was denied a medical exemption to participate in the event.

Such a ruling would not come from Tennis Australia, but from federal and State health bodies, who have stated all participants, including players, support staff, officials, and spectators must be fully vaccinated to have any kind of presence in Melbourne.

CAN Rafael Nadal emerge from months on the sidelines to become a contender again at the Australian Open?

He can, and he can if Novak Djokovic fails to turn up in Melbourne, but he will have to watch there young guns moving in on what was a trio of some of the best tennis talent the world has seen.

With no Djoko and not Roger, he could be the sole survivor.

All will rest on how he feels after the ATP 250 tournament he competes in next week in Melbourne.

His main contenders for the AO title will of course be Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev.

Diego Schartzman posted a picture with his girlfriend Eugenia De Martino.

Emma Raducanu en route Down Under this week.

THE stars have been arriving all week in Melbourne to prepare for the first Slam of the new year, with defending champion Naomi Osaka touching down on Thursday.

Osaka used her Twitter feed to share images of her travel and arrival Down Under, as did many others, including Argentine Diego Schwartzman, Maria Sakkari, Emma Raducanu, Rafa Nadal, and the German ATP Cup team in Sydney.

ADELAIDE has become a major draw card for women’s tennis with a star-studded line-up at WTA 500 event that starts in the City of Churches tomorrow.

Indian Wells champion Paula Badosa will again face Victoria Azarenka in a rematch of their October clash in California.

World No.1 Ash Barty is also there, along with world No.2 Aryna Sabalenka, Iga Swiatek, Maria Sakkari, Badosa and Azarenka.

The add in 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, Elena Rybakina, Coco Gauff, Leylah Fernandez and Elina Svitolina and it becomes a mouthwatering warm-up and a great indicator as to who might triumph at Melbourne Park in a few weeks time.

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