It’s time for the first Grand Slam of the year, time to cheer for your favorite star at the biggest stage when they battle it out in the scorching conditions down under, it’s time for Australian Open.
Ever since the draw was out, people have been talking about the big set up, the quarters and the semis, the potential Novak-Federer and Williams-Sharapova clash.
But there’s plenty of exciting stuff to watch out for in the opening two days at Melbourne Park. As Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams gear up for their title defence, we bring you the first round matches that you simply cannot afford to miss!
Have a look!
An intriguing contest on Monday will feature the flamboyant Frenchman Tsonga taking on Baghdatis, both brutal hitters of the ball.
Tsonga had a below par season last year, and would love to leave a mark and emerge as a dark horse at Melbourne. Marcos Baghdatis has been on the circuit for a very long time now and has produced some of his best tennis in Australia. He has just one win in six meetings against Tsonga.
One would still pick Tsonga to breeze past Marcos, but only after we’ve seen some powerful shot making.
Serena Williams has been drawn for a tough first round, against the highest ranked unseeded player, the Italian Camila Giorgi.
Giorgi is known for her hard hitting baseline game and tendency to aim for the lines. Though for someone as tall as her, she has an inconsistent serve. She reached the round of 16 at both AELTC and Flushing Meadows.
Williams, who missed out on her calendar slam after losing to Vinci at US Open, is undoubtedly the favorite to lift the trophy yet again and equal the all time record of 22 Grand Slams. Serena is also likely to meet Maria Sharapova in the quarterfinals.
Serena leads 2-0 in H2H battles and is likely to win this one too.
The Japanese wonder Ninja Kei will face a stern test in the shape of German Kohlschreiber, in his opening match down under.
Seeded seventh, the 2014 US Open finalist Nishikori failed to do anything substantial last year, owing to some injury issues. Having recovered now, he is one of the dark horses of the tournament and can trouble the best with his offensive all court playing style.
The 32-year-old German, has been a tough competitor throughout his career. Known for his solid play on both the wings and the sudden injection of pace could possibly trouble Kei. Having said that, the balance still tilts in the favor of Nishikori .
Lleyton ‘Rusty’ Hewitt will play his last Australian Open, and he will be up against a 23-year-old Australian, Duckworth, who has looked up to Hewitt as a role model.
James Duckworth admitted that he doesn’t want to be remembered as the guy who sent Rusty into retirement. It will be their first meeting against each other and one that is eagerly awaited by people across the globe, because it just might be the last time Lleyton steps out at the Rod Laver Arena.
The two time Grand Slam champion had announced his plan to hang up the racquet last year and got a standing ovation at his Wimbledon exit.
If he manages to win the opener, he will most likely meet David Ferrer, which would be another match to look out for.
Remember that epic semi-final showdown down under in 2009? Well, those two Spanish gladiators will battle it out again at Melbourne, this time in their openers , which is definitely the most anticipated clash of R1.
Rafa leads his compatriot 16-2 in career meetings and will enter as the favorite to win. But Verdasco, who has slipped to #47 in the rankings has every shot in his arsenal to take out Nadal and he did manage to beat him twice in 2015.
Both Rafa and Verdasco are far away from the level of play they displayed in ’09 and the match is definitely not expected to be a high quality one. Both have been struggling to get back to their best and this might just be the perfect chance to kick start their 2016 ambitions.
Rafa has been drawn in the same section as that of Stan Wawrinka , means he has avoided a quarter final clash with any other member of the BIG FOUR .