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Update: 2021 LTA Advantage Wimbledon Ballot

Today The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) announced an update on their plans for The Championships 2021.

The AELTC have said that, given the current guidance from the UK Government and public health authorities, the most likely outcome is a reduced capacity tournament, and they are doing all they can to remain as flexible as possible in their ticket distribution for this year’s Championships. This will allow them to react to a potential increase or decrease in ticket capacity ahead of and during the Wimbledon fortnight.

For the same reasons and because we are unsure of the ultimate spectator capacity of The Championships and therefore the number of tickets that will be available to the LTA and whether the event capacity will vary closer to the event, we have decided not to hold an LTA Advantage Wimbledon Ballot this year.  

However, we continue to work closely with the AELTC to ensure an allocation of tickets will be available to eligible LTA Advantage Members. We anticipate these tickets will be made available online in June and we will be in touch with more information as soon as we are able to. Our approach is to retain maximum flexibility in order to react quickly to any change in circumstances. 

We are also continuing to work on plans for our own LTA events this summer and will ensure Advantage members are kept informed of ticket details for these as soon as they become available.

We thank you for your continued understanding and patience, in a year that presents unique and challenging circumstances for the staging of sporting events.

For the full update on the 2021 Wimbledon Championships, please visit the All England Lawn Tenis Club's website.

Australian Open 2021: Preview

The five words that get every tennis fan’s heart racing – Grand Slam tennis is back.

The tournament has already seen a number of firsts in 2021 – the first February start, the first qualifiers held in another country, and the first Melbourne Summer Series warm-up events – and it hasn’t even started yet.

Here’s a preview of what you can expect at the Australian Open 2021.

Men’s singles

When you think of the Australian Open and its iconic Rod Laver Arena, only one man springs to mind – Novak Djokovic. The World No.1 is a record eight-time champion in Melbourne and has shown no sign in slowing down in recent years. Last year he beat Austrian star Dominic Thiem in an epic five-set final to lift the title and is the obvious tournament favourite.

Eager to go one further in 2021, World No.3 Thiem is tipped by many as the main man to prevent the Serbian from winning his third title in a row. The 2020 US Open champion is playing some of the best tennis on tour right now and his powerful, attacking style of play has proven to be formidable.

Hot on their heels is 20-time Grand Slam champion and number two seed Rafael Nadal. Despite suffering from a minor back issue, the Spaniard will be raring to win his first title at the Australian Open since 2009. 

Nitto ATP Finals champion Daniil Medvedev is another strong contender in the men’s draw and comes into the competition as the number four seed. However, on his side of the draw is fellow Russian star Andrey Rublev, who made a big name for himself as one of the stand out players of 2020 and will be an underdog to go far this year.

Women’s singles

Defending champion Sofia Kenin made a name for herself at last year’s event after beating Garbiñe Muguruza in the final. Kenin went on to be named WTA Player of the Year after also reaching the final at Roland Garros, where she lost to Iga Świątek.

The biggest question mark over the women’s draw surrounds the return of home favourite Ashleigh Barty, who will play her first Grand Slam for 11 months. The current World No.1 will face Danka Kovinic in the opening round as she looks to reignite her brilliant form from 2019.

Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams are two of the most talked about names in tennis but come into the event in strong veins of form. Osaka picked up her second US Open title back in September and so far this year has looked impressive, including a recent comeback win against Britain’s Katie Boulter. Williams on the other hand has played well in her warm-up matches but is struggling with a shoulder injury which forced her to pull out of her Yarra Valley Classic semi-final clash with Barty.

Meanwhile, Canada’s Bianca Andreescu makes a long anticipated return to the tour and World No.2 Simona Halep is out to be crowned Australian Open champion for the first time.

The Brits

Singles

The headline clash of the first round for British tennis fans is of course, number 30 seed Dan Evans up against Cam Norrie. The two have been regular practice partners out in Melbourne but must now face each other to stay in the competition. In their most recent clash at the Battle of the Brits Premier League of Tennis in December, Norrie came out on top, but at a Grand Slam anything can happen.

British No.1 Johanna Konta - who reached the semi-finals in Melbourne in 2016will face Egyptian qualifier Mayar Sherif in her opening tie. If Konta were to win she would face another qualifier in the second round before a potential match up with World No.24 Jenifer Brady in the third round.

Heather Watson faces a tough opening clash against Kristyna Pliskova, but will take confidence from the fact that she beat the Czech star in Melbourne only a year ago.

Boulter has been in brilliant form over the past week and is up against Daria Kasatkina in round one – the winner of which could face seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka in the next round.

Playing in her first Grand Slam and WTA Tour event, fans will be excited to see 20-year-old Fran Jones in action at the Australian Open this year. Jones faces World No.60 Shelby Rogers in her first match.

Doubles

Britiain's male doubles stars feature prominently in the Australian Open line-up for 2021 – none more so than reigning champion Joe Salisbury and his partner Rajeev Ram. After a fantastic 2020 campaign that saw the pair reach No.2 in the world, Salisbury and Ram are one of the favourites going into this year’s event.

Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares - who triumphed in Australia in 2016 - will once again reunite for this season. The duo last played together back in 2019, before Murray paired up with fellow Brit Neal Skupski. With Murray and Soares back together, they’ll feel confident that they can have a good run in the tournament.

Speaking of reunions, Neal and Ken Skupski are back together again, as the brothers from Liverpool aim for a strong performance in Melbourne.

Dom Inglot and Luke Bambridge will join together for this year’s opening Grand Slam, while Jonny O’Mara teams up with New Zealand's Artem Sitak 

Singles stars Norrie and Evans will also compete in the doubles - Norrie pairs up with Marcos Giron, while Evans will play with Moldovan, Radu Albot.

Wheelchair

Alfie Hewett, Gordon Reid, Andy Lapthorne and Lucy Shuker fly the flag in the Australian Open men’s, women’s and quad wheelchair events this year.

Having won his first career Grand Slam singles title in Australia in 2016, Reid also lifted the men’s doubles title for the first time in 2017 before partnering with Hewett. The British pair claimed their first Australian Open title together last year.

Hewett makes his fifth Australian Open appearance, having won his first singles match at Melbourne Park last year to reach the men’s singles semis.

Of the British quartet, Lapthorne has won the most titles in Melbourne, having lifted a total of five quad doubles titles, the first of those titles coming on his Australian Open debut back in 2011.

Shuker is also a former two-time Australian Open women’s doubles finalist, partnering Australia’s Dainela di Toro in 2010 and Dutch star Marjolein Buis in 2013. She has progressed to the singles semi-finals twice before.

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Murray, Watson and Draper top the tables going into the final day

Andy Murray joined Jack Draper at the top of the Premier League table on the men’s side with a second win, this time over British No. 3 Cameron Norrie. Looking to be moving well, and coming through another long match, Murray was quick to take the initiative and break Norrie in the opening game and kept hold of the advantage to take the first set.

Norrie, who made a few uncharacteristic errors in his match against Draper, steadied the ship, coming back from an early break in the second set to give Murray some pause for thought. He broke back and kept the pressure on, even having a set point before going into a tie-break.

Norrie played a much-improved match from yesterday but the momentum from a win already in the tournament saw Murray clinch another three points to move up the table to share the top spot with the now 19-year-old Draper on his birthday. Draper had battled through a gruelling match against Norrie, and at times during that had looked fatigued, but pulled up well for a commanding win over Jay Clarke.

Heather Watson also tops the Premier League of Tennis tables, as she closed out a long day of action on Court Three, taken the distance by Emma Raducanu in her biggest test so far. Raducanu’s aggressive game caught Watson on the hop, and despite being able to reel off three games in a row to get things back on an even keel in the first set, Raducanu powered her way to another break courtesy of Watson errors to take the first set.

It looked as though the pattern would repeat in the second set, with an early break for Raducanu but Watsons patience and point construction started to pay off as the dreaded double-faults returned to Raducanu’s game. Watson took her chance and broke Raducanu twice to take it into a decider.

From there experience really told as she powered to a commanding lead, and although there were a couple of points of respite for the 18-year-old, Watson secured her place on the top of the table with another two points.

At the start of the day, in an epic battle on Court Three, Francesca Jones edged out one of the domestic summer’s star performers, Jodie Burrage. From the start Jones prevented Burrage from getting into any rhythm in her game, and with not that much separating them in the rankings, the encounter was taut throughout.

Trading breaks at the start, Burrage’s aggressive play saw her push time and again to break Jones again, but the higher ranked player just kept Burrage at bay, and her own perseverance paid off with a break towards the end of the set, before taking the lead.

It was a competitive start to the second set, and the pair went on to trade four breaks of serve before battling their way through to a tie-break. Burrage looked to be on the March, bringing up three set points, but just found herself error-strewn at the end as Jones hung on to get her first win of the tournament.

It was encouraging to see how Jack Draper performed after his gruelling encounter with Norrie on Monday, where at times he looked to be flagging with the pace in the second set. He confidently dispatched Jay Clarke, perhaps also with the benefit of having had plenty of match-time this week.

Dan Evans was in fine form and added to his league table points tally by powering to a  straight sets win over Liam Broady.

There was also a first win of the tournament for Katy Dunne. At times she has struggled to get her serve working but was in command in the first set against Alicia Barnett. She found herself taken the distance though as Barnett came back to force a decider, but Dunne took control in the match tie-break to get her first points on the board.

There were wins as will for Eden Silva and Anton Matusevich, who came in for Jan Choinski, and handled the heavy weight of shot from James Ward well to claim a decent scalp in terms of points.

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Wheelchair Team Battle 2020 - Day 1: Breakwell's double unable to prevent The Knights taking early lead

Abbie Breakwell made it two wins from her two singles matches on Tuesday’s opening day of the Wheelchair Team Battle, but it was not enough to prevent her Lionhearts team from trailing The Knights 4-3 at the National Tennis Centre. 

With three players from the LTA’s Wheelchair National Age Group Programme on court for the first two singles matches, Breakwell secured a 6-2, 6-1 win over Greg Slade to earn an early point for the Lionhearts, before returning to court 90 minutes later to live up to her team name. 

Facing fellow former National School Games gold medallist Ruby Bishop, Breakwell forged into a 3-1 first set lead before Bishop recovered strongly to take the next five games, converting her second set point.

Breakwell raced though the second set and took a healthy 5-1 lead in the deciding match tie-break., However, Bishop fought back from 8-4 down to earn the first match point, only to follow it with a double fault That handed the momentum back to Breakwell, who closed out a tense 3-6, 6-1, (11-9) victory.

With action on two courts, Court 1 opened with two-time US Open quad singles champion Andy Lapthorne facing 15-year-old Dahnon Ward, who was recently named the inaugural winner of the ITF’s Junior Player of the Year Award. Ward showed plenty of star quality as he broke Lapthorne to take a 3-2 lead, but with Lapthorne playing his first match since Roland Garros he took the next seven games without reply and wrapped up a 6-3, 6-3 victory as his experience earned the first point for The Knights.

After the match Ward reflected on the opportunity to go head-to-head with the world's best players. "He's won the US Open, so playing against top players like that is a good experience. It could have been better, but there were glimpses of a potential win there. I think,  as the week goes on, I'll find my range.”

“It’s great the LTA have been able to put an event on for us right before Christmas and it’s good preparation for my pre-season and looking forward to Australia, it’s a great opportunity to play matches," said Lapthorne.

The Knights and the Lionhearts shared the first four singles matches of the week after Antony Cotterill took a 6-1, 6-3 win over fellow quad division player Richard Green.

But no sooner were the scores level, than another deciding match tie-break saw the Lionhearts snatch the lead as Britain’s top two ranked junior boys, Ben Bartram and Ward, got the chance to partner two-time Paralympic doubles bronze medallists Jordanne Whiley and Lucy Shuker.

Bartram and Whiley capitalised on an early 3-0 lead to take the opening set, but Ward and Shuker produced the more consistent tennis to build on a 4-1 second set lead and force the decider.  

There was no more than one point between either doubles partnership during the match tie-break, until Ward knocked a forehand into the net to give Bartram and Whiley match point and another forehand error from Ward handed Bartram and Whiley an epic 6-4, 4-6, (10-8) victory.

Shuker however could not have been more proud of the way her partner performed. “It’s an honour to play with the juniors, the balls that they are striking are incredible at times," she said.

"There’s been a good atmosphere and a good energy amongst all the players, I think everyone is enjoying being back and playing competitive tennis again.” 

With The Knights leading 3-2, James Shaw and Dermot Bailey ensured a grand stand finale to the opening day’s play as they faced Cotterill and Lapthorne. 

Four players who have all been part of Great Britain gold medal-winning teams at the World Team Cup gave live stream viewers another treat, Cotterill and Lapthorne showing the kind of form that has previously seen them become Doubles Masters champions in the quad division as they recovered from a set and 2-0 down to force yet another deciding match tie-break.

However, despite earning a 5-3 lead in the match tie-break Cotterill and Lapthorne’s fortunes started to wane and despite them saving one match point they eventually lost out to Shaw and Bailey  6-2, 2-6, (10-6) as Lapthorne’s efforts to retrieve a looping forehand proved fruitless.

Seven matches scheduled for the opening day promised that either The Knights or the Lionhearts would end the day with a lead. And fans were given a real treat as Alfie Hewett, Lucy Shuker, Gordon Reid and Jordanne Whiley paired up for a mixed doubles that promised much and did not disappoint. 

Whiley wrapped up the opening set with an ace and the final rally of the match produced the kind of breath-taking tennis that fans had been able to enjoy throughout. But Shuker ultimately found the net with a volley to give Reid and Whiley a 7-5, 6-3 win and The Knights a 4-3 lead heading into Wednesday’s second day play, when the men’s singles contest between Hewett and Reid is among the featured matches.

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