The first major of the decade is upon us. The draw is done and on Monday action begins at Melbourne Park, but what are the opening round one ladies matches to keep an eye on?
Madison Keys v Daria Kasatkina
Madison Keys has been in good form to begin the season. The American made it all the way to the Brisbane final to begin her season in which should be an important one for her.
Keys turns 25 this year and is yet to find some more consistency as she embarks on her 8th Australian Open where she was a semi-finalist in 2015.
Her opponent is Daria Kasatkina who has had a dip of form herself lately. The Russian finds herself outside the top 60 in the world and an inform Kasatkina would provide a challenge but I can’t see past Madison Keys for this one.
Venus Williams v Coco Gauff
Here we go again!
The oldest in the draw vs the youngest in the draw for the second time in seven months.
Coco Gauff’s name hit the world headlines last year when she defeated Venus at Wimbledon and since then has gone onto win many of matches and is now a top 70 player at the age of 15.
Serena Williams v Anastasia Potapova
Potapova can cause an upset on her day.
Last year she did it at Roland Garros as she saw off Angie Kerber but she hasn’t really shown us that since. She likes to hit the ball hard from the baseline and this will be a good test/lesson against Serena.
The American is fresh off her title win in Auckland and will mean business as her tournament is to begin on Monday.
Simona Halep v Jennifer Brady
I wouldn’t rule anything out here.
Simona Halep does take some time to get going during the season but she seems relaxed. I thought she was rusty in Adelaide and I can’t see her contending right now as she does look off the pace.
Simona has said she will work match by match and sees what needs improving.
Jennifer Brady however isn’t a player you want to face right now. The American has been in fantastic form and isn’t afraid of going for it as Ash Barty and Maria Sharapova found out in Brisbane.
Donna Vekic v Maria Sharapova
Tough start is this for Maria. The Croat continues to go from strength to strength over the last 12-18 months or so.
It’s quite remarkable to an extent the journey to this time now for Vekic who at 23 has been on the tour for so long and played in over 450 matches!
Maria is looking for some consistency and some wins and I don’t think it will come here. The Russian does risk falling outside the top 300 in the world with some big points to defend at Melbourne Park.