As the Melbourne Summer Series continues in the lead-up to AO 2021, tennis fans are in for a treat if they visit Melbourne Park – or follow the action on screen – with 49 matches scheduled to take place across the precinct.
Here are the key takeaways from Monday’s order of play.
A 23-time major champion, Serena Williams is the most illustrious name on the schedule and will continue her AO preparation at MCA against popular Aussie Daria Gavrilova. The two women will be vying for a place in the last 16 of the WTA Yarra Valley Classic.
This will be Williams’ first officially-sanctioned match since her first-round appearance at Roland Garros, and she takes a 3-0 head-to-head record into the clash against former world No.20 Gavrilova, a 6-2 6-0 winner on Sunday over Viktoria Kuzmova.
Big guns in action
Following Serena onto MCA will be world No.2 Simona Halep, the top seed at the WTA Gippsland Open. The Romanian faces Anastasia Potapova, who beat Whitney Osuigwe in her opening match at Melbourne Park.
Joining Halep and Williams on the schedule are top-10 stars Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina – both playing at 1573 Arena – as well as American teen sensation Coco Gauff and 2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko.
Men’s play begins
First-round matches at the concurrent ATP 250 tournaments at Melbourne Park also commence on Monday. One clash capturing attention is the meeting between 16th seed Feliciano Lopez and former world No.5 Kevin Anderson, playing for a spot in the second round of the Great Ocean Road Open.
Former US Open champion Marin Cilic takes on Jeremy Chardy in the Murray River Open, while three-time Grand Slam semifinalist Richard Gasquet, the No.14 seed in the same tournament draw, faces Mackenzie McDonald.
Plenty of local interest will be generated by the fact there are 12 Australians in singles action on Monday.
Before Gavrilova takes on Serena at MCA, Ajla Tomljanovic will kick off play on the same court against Alize Cornet, while an all-Aussie clash between Bernard Tomic and Marc Polmans – with the winner to possibly face Nick Kyrgios – rounds out the MCA schedule under lights. Another all-Australian meeting is set for Court 3 between Thanasi Kokkinakis and Alex Bolt, while Aussie men feature in all five singles matches on Court 12.