Australia’s world No.1 Ash Barty and eight-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic (SRB) will lead the fields at what promises to be a historic Australian Open at Melbourne Park from 8-21 February 2021, AO said in an article at its website on Thursday.
“Joining world No.1 and defending champ Djokovic is world No.2 Rafael Nadal (ESP),  Dominic Thiem (AUT),  Daniil Medvedev (RUS),  Roger Federer (SUI),  Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE),  Alexander Zverev (GER),  Andrey Rublev (RUS),  Diego Schwartzman (ARG) and  Matteo Berrettini (ITA), making up an entertaining top-10 mix of Grand Slam champions and the next generation of young guns knocking at the door.
“Serena Williams’ motivation is unquestioned as she sets herself up to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles by winning an eighth Australian Open crown.
“Also in contention on the women’s side are world No.2 Simona Halep (ROU), 2020 US Open champion  Naomi Osaka (JPN), defending champion  Sofia Kenin (USA),  Elina Svitolina (UKR),  Karolina Pliskova (CZE),  Bianca Andreescu (CAN),  Petra Kvitova (CZE),  Kiki Bertens (NED) and  Aryna Sabalenka (BLR).
“Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka (BLR) returns, having missed the tournament in 2020, alongside19-year-old Iga Swiatek (POL), the newest Grand Slam women’s champion who won Roland Garros in October.
“A total of 104 players receive direct entry into the men’s and women’s singles main draw and a further eight are awarded wildcards, while 16 places will be determined at the qualifying rounds from 10-13 January 2021 in Dubai and Doha respectively.
“In the past 17 years, the all-time Grand Slam leading trio of Djokovic (2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020), Federer (2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2017, 2018) and Nadal (2009) have won the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup 15 times between them.
“There have been eight different women’s champions since 2011 – Kenin (2020), Osaka (2019), Caroline Wozniacki (2018), Serena Williams (2017, 2015), Angelique Kerber (2016), Li Na (2014), Azarenka (2013, 2012) and Kim Clijsters (2011).
“Four other women join the field on protected rankings with  Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ), AO 2009 semifinalist and world No.78 Vera Zvonareva (RUS),  Katie Boulter (GBR) and  Mona Barthel (GER) all set to play in Melbourne.
“World No.71 Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) and  Mackenzie McDonald (USA) join the men’s field on protected rankings.
“Thirteen Australians have direct entry into their home Grand Slam, with top ranked Barty joined by  Ajla Tomljanovic and wildcards  Astra Sharma,  Maddison Inglis,  Lizette Cabrera and  Daria Gavrilova on the women’s side.
“World No.23 Alex de Minaur leads the Australian men’s contingent with  John Millman,  Nick Kyrgios,  Jordan Thompson,  James Duckworth and wildcards  Christopher O’Connell and  Marc Polmans in the men’s draw.”
“We are looking forward to welcoming the world’s best players to Melbourne and what promises to be a spectacular Australian Open following a year of disruption on a scale none of us has ever experienced before,” Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said.
“Although the AO will look a bit different to previous years, the safety of everyone is our top priority. We have the opportunity to stage a very safe, and happy Slam, and give the players the experience of competing in front of crowds again, something they’ve missed for most of this year.
“There are so many great storylines for AO 2021. Serena is gunning for her eighth AO title while Novak, who often seems invincible at Melbourne Park, is going for a record ninth title. Our own world No.1 Ash Barty will return to Grand Slam competition, as will Roger Federer as he comes back from injury. And there’s a new crop of rising stars coming up to challenge them all.
“It’s going to be a great few weeks of tennis here in Melbourne.”