Australian Open day two preview: Ashleigh Barty heads star-studded lineup

Ashleigh Barty heads a star-studded second day at the Australian Open, as the hosts’ main hope in the competition.

Barty, the top seed in the women’s draw for a second consecutive year, faces Montenegrin Danka Kovinic as she looks to become Australia’s first home winner since Chris O’Neil in 1978.  

It is nearly a year since the world number one last played a match, but the Melbourne crowd will expect big things from her regardless.

Defending champion and fourth seed Sofia Kenin will also take to the Rod Laver Arena to face Australian Maddison Inglis.

The second seed in the men’s draw and world number two Rafael Nadal begins his campaign in what should be a routine match against Serbia’s Laslo Djere on Rod Laver Arena.

The Spaniard has only won the competition once in 2009 and is still nursing a back injury, but he should encounter little resistance against the world number 56.

A battle of the Brits sees Dan Evans take on Cameron Norrie, with the British No.1 Evans in fine form after clinching his first ATP singles title on Sunday with a 6-2 6-3 win over Felix Auger-Aliassime.

South African-born Norrie is ranked 69th in the world and is yet to make it past the third round of a Major.

Evans won the last meeting between the pair in straight sets.

Three other Brits are in action on day two, with British women’s number one Johanna Konta facing Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan.

In 2016, Konta became the first British female player in 32 years to reach a singles Grand Slam in Melbourne, but she is yet to reach a Major final.

Heather Watson faces Kristyna Pliskova while Francesca Jones will play her first-ever match in the main draw of a Grand Slam against world number 60 Shelby Rogers.

Fourth seed Daniil Medvedev faces a tough opening match against Canada’s Vasek Pospisil on Margaret Court Arena.

The ATP World Tour champion is looking to better his two consecutive fourth-round finishes, but world number 25 Pospisil will provide a stern test of his credentials.

Fifth seed and world number six Stefanos Tsitsipas begins his tournament with a clash against 36-year-old Frenchman Gilles Simon, as the 22-year-old looks to reach a first major final.

You can check out all of SWL’s Australian Open content here.

Featured image credit: Carine06 via Wikimedia Commons

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