Our event of the day is the major curtain-raiser of the tennis season, as the prestigious Australian Open gets underway in Melbourne. After the qualifiers took place last week, today sees a star-studded field take to the courts of Melbourne Park as they all vie to take home the title and the lion’s share of the record $62.5 million prize money fund. The first grand slam of the season tends to bring with it an inimitable buzz, but after Andy Murray’s recent retirement announcement, this is to be the Scotsman’s last ever Australian Open and a different dynamic has been added to proceedings in Melbourne. Reigning back-to-back champion Roger Federer launches his bid to win a third Australian Open title in as many years tonight as he faces Denis Istomin in the evening session. The 20-time grand slam champion won his first Australian Open all the way back in 2004, and he will be looking to secure his seventh at this year’s edition. Before Federer graces the court, world number 2 Rafael Nadal will take to the Rod Laver Arena court and do battle with home-crowd favourite James Duckworth. Despite having a resounding 17 grand slam titles to his name, Nadal has only won this tournament once before in his illustrious career and will be desperate to notch a second this time round.
Meanwhile, in the women’s tournament, defending champion Caroline Wozniacki headlines the evening session alongside Roger Federer, as her campaign gets underway with a tricky tie against Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium. Last year’s victory was Wozniacki’s first at this tournament, such has been the dominance of Serena Williams, who has won this tournament seven times since 2003. Day 1 also sees Angelique Kerber bid to win her second Australian Open title as the world number two faces Polona Hercog of Slovenia. Meanwhile, Andy Murray will hope to inaugurate his final season in style with a strong performance at the renowned tournament. The 31-year-old will take to the court with Roberto Bautista Agut, who has never progressed further than the fourth round at this competition. Despite never winning an Australian Open, Murray has reached five finals here during his gilded career and will clearly be missed greatly by all those involved in, and fans of, tennis. Today should be a thrilling start to this year’s tournament.
Honourable mentions around the globe go to the Premier League clash between Manchester City and Wolves at the Etihad Stadium. The reigning champions flexed their muscles last time out, as they embarrassed League One side Burton Albion 9-0 in the Carabao Cup Semi-final. Meanwhile, Wolves are enjoying an excellent first season back in the top tier of English football and dumped league-leaders Liverpool out of the FA Cup last time out. Across the pond, there is a jam-packed night of action in the NBA, with the Houston Rockets and the Memphis Grizzlies headlining the night, as they do battle at the Toyota Center. Elsewhere, in the NHL, the Edmonton Oilers host the Buffalo Sabres at Rogers Place as the Oilers go in search of their second home win on the bounce. Back in Australia, there is action in the Big Bash League as the Melbourne Stars face the league-leading Hobart Hurricanes, with the Stars hoping to inflict just the second defeat of the season on the Hurricanes.
Whatever you’re watching, enjoy!
Photos by Andy Murray; WTA
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