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Melbourne Summer Series: What to watch on Day 3

  • Dan Imhoff

The world’s top four-ranked men and three of the top four women will make their first tour-level singles outings of the season on Tuesday across five events at Melbourne Park.

MORE: ATP Cup preview: Top four take centre stage

Here are the highlights from Tuesday’s order of play.

Nadal begins Australian campaign

Rafael Nadal stood just two points from defeat against a home-crowd-backed Alex De Minaur in the ATP Cup before digging out a three-set comeback to help Spain on its way to the final in Sydney last year.

While traditionally averse to competing in the week prior to his Grand Slam campaigns, the world No.2 – who added a record-tying 20th major in Paris last September – was left with little choice this time round due to a condensed lead-up schedule.

The Spaniard leads Spain into battle against Australia again with a rematch against De Minaur scheduled on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday night.

MORE: ATP Cup daily schedule

De Minaur arrives having won the season-opening Antalya Open in Turkey and eager to stem a 0-3 head-to-head record against Nadal.

Djokovic, Thiem open ATP Cup

The world’s top four men are all in action on Tuesday, with world No.1 Novak Djokovic beginning his Australian Open warm-up against Denis Shapovalov in the first match on Rod Laver Arena for 2021.

Djokovic added a record eighth Australian Open to his haul last February on the back of Serbia’s title run in the inaugural ATP Cup in Sydney. It was there in the quarterfinals he edged the young Canadian in a third-set tiebreak for his fifth win from as many showdowns.

MORE: Djokovic’s point to prove at AO 2021

Newest men’s Grand Slam champion Dominic Thiem opens Austria’s campaign on Melbourne Arena against Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, with the pair having split their previous four meetings.

Dominic Thiem
There's been little to choose between Thiem and Berrettini in their recent clashes

In Russia’s first tie, world No.4 and ATP Finals champion Daniil Medvedev carries a 5-0 record into his clash with ninth-ranked Argentine Diego Schwartzman.

Williams v Kvitova: Round 8

It is more than 26 years since Venus Williams fell to Arantxa Sanchez Vicario as a 14-year-old, having won her first tour-level match in Oakland, California. 

On Monday, the 40-year-old wound back the clock to ensure another Arantxa would not have her number as she steamrolled the Dutchwoman, Rus, to set an eighth career showdown with fellow major champion Petra Kvitova in the second round of the Yarra Valley Classic.

Venus Williams
Venus meets long-time foe Kvitova on Tuesday

The Czech leads the pair’s head-to-head ledger 4-3, including their first clash 12 years ago, but they have not played since Williams claimed the honours at Indian Wells nearly two years ago.

MORE: WTA Yarra Valley Classic draw

From the former top American to the current in Sofia Kenin. The 22-year-old plays her first match in Melbourne since capturing her maiden Grand Slam at last year’s Australian Open when she opens against Italian Camila Giorgi in the second round of the Yarra Valley Classic. It will be the pair’s first meeting.

Osaka v Cornet

Three-time major winner Naomi Osaka returns to Margaret Court Arena for the first time since her defeat as defending Australian Open champion to Coco Gauff last January. The Japanese world No.3 added a second US Open to her tally in September to stamp her status as the hard-court queen.

MORE: Rebooted Osaka looks to make amends

She plays her first match since that triumph when she meets former world No.11 Alize Cornet for the first time in the Gippsland Trophy second round. 

MORE: WTA Gippsland Trophy draw

Osaka conducted a courtside reconnaissance to watch the Frenchwoman fight against Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic in her opening match on Monday.

Barty, Kyrgios lead Aussies’ charge

More accustomed to stepping onto her home arena in Brisbane to open her season, Yarra Valley Classic top seed Ashleigh Barty will instead contest her first match of the season at Melbourne Park when she meets Romanian Ana Bogdan for the first time. 

MORE: Grateful Barty rested and ready to fire 

Barty dusted off the cobwebs with a first-round doubles win with Jennifer Brady on Monday, but will play her first singles match on home soil since falling to Kenin in last year’s Australian Open semifinals.

Like Barty, compatriot Nick Kyrgios has not competed since last February and will make his return against 209th-ranked Frenchman Alexandre Muller at the Murray River Open on Tuesday. 

Nick Kyrgios
Kyrgios returns from a lengthy layoff on Tuesday

The 13th seed impressed in helping Australia reach the ATP Cup semifinals before pushing top seed Nadal in four tight sets in the fourth round of last year’s Australian Open.

MORE: Murray River Open draw

Fellow Australians Jordan Thompson, John-Patrick Smith, Tristan Schoolkate and Dane Sweeny begin their campaigns at the Great Ocean Road Open, while Alexei Popyrin and James Duckworth join Kyrgios in opening their seasons at the Murray River Open on Tuesday.

MORE: Great Ocean Road Open draw

Destanee Aiava looks to win her second straight match when she faces Laura Siegemund in the Gippsland Trophy second round.