The opening round of the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the season, concludes on Tuesday and the stars are out in force with women’s world number one Iga Swiatek headlining the action against Sofia Kenin.
Kenin is the 2020 Australian Open champion but the American’s levels have been on the decline ever since, so Swiatek should prevail comfortably, while last season’s runner-up Elena Rybakina gets her campaign underway against Karolina Pliskova.
In the men’s draw, all eyes will be on two-time Grand Slam champion Carlos Alcaraz, who is expected to serve up the biggest challenge to ten-time winner Novak Djokovic.
Elsewhere, there is an all-German affair between Alexander Zverev and Dominik Koepfer and plenty of British interest as Emma Raducanu, Katie Boutler, Cameron Norrie and Jack Draper all take to the court.
Jack Draper -1.5 sets on the handicap v Marcos Giron @ 8/13
British tennis fans have every reason to be getting excited about the future of emerging talent Draper, who should be targeting Grand Slam glory in the years to come.
The 22-year-old has all the weapons to become a big hit on the ATP Tour, with his sheer power on serve and forehand making him a formidable force.
Draper still awaits his first title but he is edging closer, having finished runner-up to Adrian Mannarino at the Sofia Open in November as well as playing second fiddle against Jiri Lehecka in Adelaide last week.
However, the Londoner’s list of victims there included Tommy Paul, a semi-finalist at last season’s Australian Open, as well as a three-time winner on the ATP Tour in Alexander Bublik.
A reproduction of those performances should see him past Giron, who has lost in the opening round of the Australian Open in each of the last four years, and he is taken to prevail by at least two sets.
Petra Martic to beat Ajla Tomljanovic @ 4/6
The Australian players tend to get a strong reception at Melbourne Park but the cheering may be in vain for Ajla Tomljanovic, who looks vulnerable in her opening-round showdown with Petra Martic.
Home favourite Tomljanovic has failed to progress beyond the second round in eight previous attempts at the Australian Open, falling at the first hurdle on four occasions.
The 30 -year-old is a quality operator on her day but she missed three of the four Grand Slams last season and is now ranked 290th in the world.
Tomljanovic lost three of her four matches at the recent United Cup, beating Serbian world number 185 Natalija Stevanovic but suffering defeats to Katie Boulter and Angelique Kerber, who has played only five matches since Wimbledon 2022 after giving birth.
World number 37 Martic, on the other hand, arrives following a quarter-final run in Auckland and should be full of confidence.
Juncheng Shang to beat Mackenzie McDonald @ 4/6
Juncheng Shang is making only his third appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam but the 18-year-old is a player with a bright future and can show his qualities against Mackenzie McDonald.
Shang is a wildcard entry but he is far better than that suggests, which is highlighted by his run to the semi-finals in Hong Kong recently.
The Chinese teenager recorded wins over Laslo Djere, Botic Van De Zandschulp and Frances Tiafoe then and he was far from disgraced in his last-four duel with world number seven Andrey Rublev, who triumphed 4-6 6-2 6-3.
Shang defeated Oscar Otte in the first round of the Australian Open last season and he can repeat the trick against McDonald, who has lost his opening two matches of the year in straight sets.
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