Guess who’s back, back again. Novak’s back, tell a friend.

Well, unless you’re friend is Donald Young, in which case he already knows.

One hundred and eighty seven days since Novak Djokovic last played a meaningful game of tennis, the 6-time AO champ stepped onto the court and made Young look like the one who’d taken time off. No, it wasn’t a perfect performance by any means, but shooting sleeve and service motion aside, this looked more-or-less like the old Djokovic.

Maybe it’s still too early to expect him to completely regain his mojo (after all, the elbow still isn’t 100%) but at the very least, he seems to be playing with a lot of joy. Maybe that translates to a Federer-esque run through the draw, maybe he crashes out in the next round. Whatever he does, it’s just nice to have him back.

Here’s your three to see on day 3 in Melbourne.


Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) [10] v Gilles Simon (FRA) – 1st on Show Court 3

By all accounts 2017 was a dismal year for Gilles Simon – 25 losses against 16 wins, an outside the top-50 finish, and still unable to find a decent beard trimmer – but with a title already this year in Pune, 2018 is off to a much better start. Now his resurgent form will be put to the test against US Open semifinalist Pablo Carreno Busta, who will be more than happy to grind it out with the Frenchman. Both men have shown previously their ability to out-fox the other, splitting the head-to-head at two wins apiece, and it would be not at all surprising to see that lead to a five-set encounter here.


Denis Shapovalov (CAN) v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) [15] – 2nd on Margaret Court Arena

Perhaps its only fitting that on the tenth anniversary of his improbable run to the 2008 AO final, the veteran Jo-Wilfried Tsonga now finds himself looking to fend off another young upstart with plenty of style. Denis Shapovalov is unquestionably the hottest up-and-comer on the tour, and will come into this match knowing he cannot only match Tsonga, shot-for-ridiculous-shot, but outdo him, as he did in a 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 triumph over the Frenchman in last year’s US Open second round. If Tsonga is to turn the tables, he’ll need to produce significantly more venom off his groundies than he did in New York, and hopefully that leads to a match that is nothing short of a shotmaker’s delight.


Alize Cornet (FRA) v Julia Goerges (GER) [12] – 1st Match, Night Session on Margaret Court Arena

Despite being just a career top-50 player, Julia Goerges comes into this match the hottest player on tour, having won 15 matches and three tournaments in a row. As if things couldn’t get any better, on Monday she saw section-mate Venus Williams sent packing, and that means the world no. 12 is primed for a deep run in Melbourne. With that in mind, Alize Cornet represents an excellent test of her bonafides, as the crafty Frenchwoman seems to always have an upset lurking in her, and will be sure to test Goerges ability to stay on the offensive. It’s the exact sort of match Goerges should use to make a statement, and if she does, she’ll become a legitimate contender for championship Saturday.


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