The first slam of the year gets under way in less than 12 hours. We take a look at some of the must see matches for the opening day in Melbourne. These matches will all be on TV Courts.
(1) Rafael Nadal vs Bernard Tomic 7pm, Rod Laver Arena, Nadal leads H2H 1-0
Usually, you can’t expect much from the early round matches for the elite players on either tour but this is one that has promise as a potential thriller if Tomic brings his A-game. Tomic comes into the event in good form having made the final in Sydney while Nadal went one better with a title in Doha. There were no fighting words from Tomic pre-tournament after previous criticism for his comments towards Roger Federer last year but there was some wisdom on the art of tanking from the Aussie. Dropping his level against World No.1 will just ensure his demise quicker than expected. Tomic appears to enjoy the big occasion but the quality gap has been too much for him in recent years. One of Nadal and Federer have defeated him in the last three Australian Open events and while it is highly likely to become four, look for some outstanding tennis to be played along the way.
(24) Andreas Seppi vs Lleyton Hewitt Third Match, Rod Laver Arena, H2H tied 3-3
Hewitt comes into this match with a six match winning streak, including a Brisbane title and two top 10 wins – although the second was an exhibition victory over Andy Murray in two tiebreak sets at Kooyong. Nevertheless, Hewitt has impressed this year but there is the danger that he may have peaked too early coming into the opening slam of the year. Seppi provides a tough test despite going 0-4 in singles on the year, including three matches at the Hopman Cup. It will be a decisive seventh meeting in a head to head that spans 10 years to early 2004. While the H2H is tied, Seppi is 2-1 on outdoor hard courts including Shanghai late last year in straight sets.
(Q) Katarzyna Piter vs Simona Halep (11) 11am, Margaret Court Arena
Halep’s inevitable rise into the top 10 was halted for a short period of time after last week’s disappointing performance against Madison Keys in Sydney. While the American showcased why she is rated as a star of the future, Halep was poor at best and will be vulnerable once more if she repeats that performance. Signs of life came at 1-6 1-5* down but it would be too late in that match has Halep departed in straights in her opening match of the 2014. Meanwhile, Piter made her way through qualifiers for the first time in a slam in her career as she edges closer to the top 100. A shock win would go some way to making that a reality.
(5) Agnieszka Radwanska vs Yulia Putintseva Third match, Hisense Arena
Piter isn’t the only Polish female in action on Day 2 with the World No.5 also in action. Radwanska was consistent as ever in 2013 and a quarter finalist at three of the four slams. The second half of 2013 wasn’t so kind to Putintseva who missed the majority of it through injury, just as she was on her way to a comfortable spot inside the top 100. It should eventually come but the likely loss of second round points may be slightly damaging. These two have met once before, Radwanska coming out on top 7-5 6-3 in Doha.
Nick Kyrgios vs Benjamin Becker Third Match, Show Court 3
After Jordan Thompson came close to pulling off the biggest shock of the day on the Men’s side yesterday, Kyrgios hopes to go one better and get the win but he is helped by the draw against a far inferior opponent to Thompson’s Janowicz. Journeyman Becker went 3-10 on hard courts last year and was thrashed by Ryan Harrison in his last outing which should give the young Aussie belief that he can spring the shock. In his two slam appearances today, Kyrgios has acquitted himself well – defeated Radek Stepanek at the French Open and remaining competitive against David Ferrer in New York.
Most Likely To Go 5 – Lleyton Hewitt vs Andreas Seppi, Roberto Bautista-Agut vs Tim Smyczek
Upset Alert – Benoit Paire (vs Frank Dancevic),
Most Likely To Go Into Extras In The 3rd – Kristina Mladenovic vs Stefanie Voegele
Upset Alert – Kaia Kanepi (vs Garbine Muguruza), Svetlana Kuznetsova (vs Elina Svitolina)