We are finally there! The first Major of the Tennis Season is here and the 1st day is as star-studded as it can get. Here we take a look at some of the big matches that are on schedule today.
Serena Williams vs Ashleigh Barty
The talented Australian teenager Barty who enjoyed great success in juniors and pro doubles as well attempts to challenge the best player on the planet and tournament’s favorite Serena. Playing in home conditions with the local support should give some sort of confidence to produce her best out there on Rod Laver Arena. It’s gonna be an entertaining end to the day if Ashleigh throws everything at the world no.1 and try to push the match deep in the most possible sets though there is a certainty of two only.
Samantha Stosur vs Klara Zakopalova
Australian no.1 Stosur is largely the crowd favorite in this match and is expected to be more competitive than her campatriot’s match against Serena. The 2011 US Open champion Stosur has been unpredictable last season and vulnerable at times. Though she lost her recent encounter with Zakopalova in Sydney earlier this week, a strong performance here should see her through to the next round, probably in three tight sets. Rod Laver Arena should be geared up to cheer for the home hope in this highly exciting contest.
Ekaterina Makarova vs Venus Williams
In contrast to her younger sister’s opening match Venus faces a tough task to begin. Russian leftie Makarova posses a big game which saw her break through in the big matches. She upset Serena a couple of years ago on this stage and is expected to send seven time major champion home early. Venus on the other hand is really struggling with her form and fitness. A runner up showing against Ivanovic in Auckland should give her some confidence coming into the Australian Open. Russian might come through in straight sets. If Venus puts on a fight to push the match to a deciding set, it would go either way.
Julia Goerges vs Sara Errani
In the recent times, the Italian top player Errani is struggling to compete at the highest level which saw her reach the Roland Garros final in 2012. She has failed at big tournaments since falling in the Wimbledon first round last year. With this kind of form, she finds it hard to beat big hitting German Julia Georges. It won’t be a surprise if the fifth seed bows out in straight sets.
Heather Watson vs Daniela Hantuchova
This one is quite an interesting match up. Talented Brit Heather Watson squares up against the tour veteran Hantuchova who had a moderately successful campaign in 2013. Daniela surprised everyone at the US Open reaching quarters. If she gets into groove early there is no doubt that she can repeat her last major’s result in Melbourne. Watson has a great opportunity to expose her strengths and let the women’s game know that she is a future prospect. Difficult to pick the winner but former world no.5 holds a slight edge due to her experience on the big stage.
Laura Robson vs Kristen Flipkens
Here’s one more blockbuster match on the cards. Laura is a well known giant killer at the slams. Last year she upset Kvitova in the second round here. Kristen has enjoyed her best season last year by reaching the semifinals at SW19. But she has not been at her best since then. Given the prospects of young leftie in Robson, many would expect her to beat Flipkens comfortably. But Laura isn’t in great form either. So a thrilling three set battle would bring out the best player on the day.
Casey Dellacqua vs Vera Zvonareva
This is a comeback match for Russian. The former Wimbledon finalist and top 10 player Zvonareva has a good match to start her return to the tour which unfortunately ended when she played Serena at Brisbane last week. If Vera doesn’t play a rusty game, it’s gonna be a straight forward affair over the veteran Australian Dellacqua who is more successful in doubles.
Belinda Bencic vs Kimiko Date-Krumm
Possibly this is the match between youngest vs oldest player on tour. The junior world no.1 Swiss teenager plays her first main draw match as a pro. But playing experienced Japanese star will be tricky for her. Bencic needs to show her mettle in out classing her older opponent to record her first victory at a grand slam. At 42, Kimiko is still playing her best which saw her reach the quarters at Sydney this week. A tight contest would end up in veteran’s favor this time.
-Harish Narahari [Harish Narahari is a Sports Analyst for the Tennis Galaxy. He tweets here]