The Australian Open begins on a Sunday for the first time this year and so the opening day is a shortened day of action to free up a little bit of wiggle room should the weather intervene during the first week.
Although we only have a reduced schedule on Sunday we will still see both defending champions getting their title defences underway when Novak Djokovic and Aryna Sabalenka head up the order of play on Sunday.
Rod Laver Arena
We have just the two matches on the day session at the Rod Laver Arena from now on after the new scheduling rules that have been brought into the sport. When the action begins it will be the ATP Tour Finals finalist Jannik Sinner opening the show when he goes up against Botic van de Zandschulp in what should be a good way to get the action underway. The women’s match in the day session will see Maria Sakkari getting her Australian Open up and running when she meets Nao Hibino.
The night session is where we will see the two defending champions get their title defences started. Novak Djokovic will be the first to grace the stage when he goes up against the Croatian qualifier Dino Prizmic. When they are done Aryna Sabalenka will walk out for a competitive match on the Rod Laver Arena for the first time since she won the title. She will face another qualifier in the form of Ella Seidel from Germany.
Margaret Court Arena
We are also down to just two matches in the day session over on the Margaret Court Arena as well and it is the former French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova who will open up the show when she takes on the Japanese wildcard Mai Hontama for a place in the second round. The highest ranked player on show on this court on Sunday is Andrey Rublev and he goes up against Thiago Seyboth Wild to round off the day session.
We have a pair of matches in the night session on Sunday as well and all eyes will be on another wildcard in the form of Caroline Wozniacki. The former finalist will take on a Magda Linette who reached the semis here a year ago. When they are done a good looking men’s match will close out the show when Frances Tiafoe looks to find some positive form when he goes up against a Borna Coric who is likely to be dangerous for a while.
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John Cain Arena
This is where the schedule reduces around the grounds and we have just three matches on show over on the John Cain Arena and it will be the former US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez who gets us underway. She will take on the Czech qualifier Sara Bejlek before the men take over for the rest of the day. Francisco Cerundolo goes up against the home qualifier Dane Sweeny before the action on this court concludes when Taylor Fritz gets his campaign underway when he takes on Facundo Diaz Acosta.
We have four matches on the Kia Arena on Sunday and we begin with the Australian wildcard Adam Walton who takes on the Italian player Matteo Arnaldi before another wildcard takes to the court in Alize Cornet who will go up against the qualifier Maria Timofeeva. When they are done arguably the pick of the women’s matches on the day takes place when Liudmila Samsonova meets Amanda Anisimova before the action concludes with another home wildcard in Jason Kubler going up against Daniel Elahi Galan for a place in the second round.
I’m not going to get stuck into both draws until we have a full schedule on Monday and beyond. Given that there is a shortage of matches there isn’t a huge amount that I like but while Magda Linette was a semi-finalist here last year I just can’t get away from her poor form to finish 2023. She has won just one of her last 10 competitive matches and that can’t have done anything for her confidence so I was always looking to take her on.
I am taking the chance that Caroline Wozniacki is fit and firing despite only playing one tournament since the US Open where she lost in the first round to Elina Svitolina in Auckland. At the US Open though Wozniacki beat Petra Kvitova and Jennifer Brady and was all over Coco Gauff at one point. I think the big stage will bring the best out of Wozniacki and if she starts well I see her dominating an opponent she has two comfortable wins against in their past matches, albeit they were before the Dane took a break from the sport.
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