Congratulations, everyone. We made it. Four long months since our last taste of grand slam tennis, the Australian Open is back, baby.
Like Christmas and New Year’s rolled into one, day one at Melbourne Park is always cause for excitement. So many questions abound, like “who’s improved in the off-season?”, “can anyone dethrone the top-dogs?” and “will Nick Kyrgios or Bernard Tomic do more to infuriate Australia?” – whatever the answers, we’re about to find out.
As is customary this time of year in Australia, play is set to begin under sweltering on-court conditions that could reach up to 40 C/104 F over the first two days, but that doesn’t mean you have to sweat it out. With so much tennis on offer it can be hard to know what to watch, but no worries, we’ve got you covered with our three match recommendations for every day of the 2019 Australian Open. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the tennis.
Here’s your three-to-see for Monday in Melbourne – suffice to say it’s a good day to have seats on Melbourne Arena!
Play starts at 11:00am AEDT
Maria Sakkari (GRE) v Jelena Ostapenko (LAT)  – Second on Melbourne Arena
It’s not for everyone you can say a premier mandatory final in Miami and a Wimbledon semi constitutes a disappointing year, but such is the lot of Jelena Ostapenko after a 2017 that saw her capture the French Open. Only 21, with time the fiery Latvian will certainly get better at finding the emotional consistency she needs to win week-in, week-out, and it will be interesting to see if that applies here in a tough test against the dangerous Sakkari. Having enjoyed a career year in 2018 with her own punishing brand of tennis, the Greek is the exact sort of opponent that could trip Ostapenko up if she’s not careful, as she’s likely to force the action and not let the Latvian wait for attacking opportunities. Indeed, the only surprise here would be if it’s anything less than a three-setter, but in any case it should be a very entertaining display of power tennis.
Kyle Edmund (GBR)  v Tomas Berdych (CZE) – Third on Melbourne Arena
Not that there’s ever a “good” first-round loss, but more than most one of these men is going to leave here very disappointed. Defending a semifinal appearance here last year, the 24-year-old Edmund simply can’t afford a loss if he wants to maintain his upward trajectory, while 2018 quarterfinalist Berdych comes in off a six-month layoff with a back injury, and will expect to build on the good form he showed in making a run to the Doha final. Indeed, if Berdych continues to find his old form, the ranking disparity matters little here, and with two big serving, big forehand-er…ing players such as these, this is probably your best bet for the first fifth-set tiebreak at the Australian Open.
Not before 6:00pm AEDT
Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)  v Andy Murray (GBR) – Fourth on Melbourne Arena
Not a must-watch for the right reasons, but a must-watch nonetheless, this might be one of, if not the last time we see Andy Murray on the grand slam stage. Unfortunately the draw has done him no favours with Roberto Bautista Agut, who comes in having beaten Stan Wawrinka, Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych en route to the Doha title. If Murray is to pull the upset – and yes, this would be an upset – he’ll need to be at his counterpunching best, try and keep the points short and not allow Bautista Agut to stretch the court with his forehand. Here’s hoping the Scot at least has enough left in the tank to make this a performance worthy of his stellar career, but win or lose, close match or not, you can bet this will be a very emotional experience.