Great Britain’s ‘magnificent seven’ for the Australian Open

Kyle Edmund of Great Britain reached the Australian Open semi-final in 2018. (Picture: Greg Bowker/Getty Images)
Kyle Edmund of Great Britain reached the Australian Open semi-final in 2018. (Picture: Greg Bowker/Getty Images)
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With Andy Murray sidelined through injury, seven British players will compete in the main singles championships at the Australian Open, which got underway overnight.

The men’s challenge is spearheaded by Beverley’s Kyle Edmund, while Johanna Konta leads the women’s charge – both of whom are former semi-finalists at the Australian Open.

Heather Watson of Great Britain reached the semi-final of the 2020 Hobart International (Picture: Steve Bell/Getty Images)

Heather Watson of Great Britain reached the semi-final of the 2020 Hobart International (Picture: Steve Bell/Getty Images)

Having drawn a line under a hugely disappointing 2019, Edmund can hopefully look ahead to what is to come this year with optimism.

He has a new coach in experienced Argentinian Franco Davin and no ranking points to defend until the end of February, which should help him push back towards at least the top 50.

His performances in helping Britain to the Davis Cup semi-finals in November showed a player perhaps potentially even better than the one who made the last four in Melbourne in 2018 and reached the world’s top 15.

Konta will hope to carry on her brilliant grand slam run having reached at least the quarter-finals at the last three tournaments.

But she has not won a match since beating Karolina Pliskova in the fourth round of the US Open in early September having subsequently called time on her season to address a nagging knee injury.

It remains an issue, and Konta’s only warm-up match was a defeat by Barbora Strycova in Brisbane. The 28-year-old has landed in a very tricky part of the draw.

Dan Evans had to qualify in Melbourne last year and it is a demonstration of what an impressive 12 months he has had that he goes into this year’s tournament at a career-high ranking of 32 and as the 30th seed.

With his year-long drugs ban now firmly behind him, Evans has added reliability to his obvious talent and competitive grit and remains both a compelling player to watch and one capable of stand-out wins.

Cameron Norrie was left out of the British team for the Davis Cup finals, but played as the No 2 behind Evans at the ATP Cup and came away with two victories, albeit against lowly-ranked players.

This will be Norrie’s second appearance in the main draw at Melbourne Park. He lost to American Taylor Fritz on his debut last year.

Heather Watson has made it into the main draw for a ninth straight year.

Last season was largely disappointing, with a first-round loss to Petra Martic in Melbourne part of an eight-match losing streak. But Watson finished the year by reaching a fourth WTA Tour final in Tianjin and goes into the tournament on a high after making the semi-finals of the Hobart International.

Katie Boulter produced one of the best wins of her career against Ekaterina Makarova in the first round in Melbourne last year but a back injury – suffered in helping Great Britain to their historic Fed Cup victory over Kazakhstan in April – ruled her out for more than six months.

Harriet Dart came through qualifying. The 23-year-old Londoner has a strong work ethic and reliable ground strokes.