It might not have done any favours for the scheduling, but I think I speak for all Aussies when I say I’ve never been happier to see rained-out tennis.

Whether here in Sydney where I am, down in Victoria, or across the many other hot-spots in the country, it should come as no surprise that we’ve been in desperate need of rain, and if that relief had to come at the expense of some grand slam action, then so be it.

Certainly I’m sure the players were relieved too, given what transpired in qualifying last week with the air quality, which was something no person should have to go outside in, let alone play tennis. As much as we expect elite athletes to do things with their bodies the rest of us can scarcely imagine, that shouldn’t be at the expense of their health – here’s hoping Monday was a sign we no longer have to reckon with that.

Moving onto day 2, that means we have a jam-packed in front of us, so if you need help picking what to watch, look no further. Here’s your three-to-see on Tuesday in Melbourne.

Daniil Medvedev (RUS) [4] v Frances Tiafoe (USA) – First Match, Night Session on Rod Laver Arena

Two next-geners at very different spots on the totem pole after 2019, this is a match that has tremendous stakes for both Daniil Medvedev and Frances Tiafoe. Obviously Medvedev will be expecting this to be the start of a title-winning campaign, but Tiafoe desperately needs to win this if he is to cling onto a ranking anywhere close to the top 50, with him defending a quarterfinal appearance here last year. With that in mind you would hope the American throws the kitchen sink at his Russian counterpart, and with the shots both are capable of, that should give us at the very least a real popcorn affair with some scintillating exchanges.

Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) v Aryna Sabalenka (BEL) [11] – Sixth on 1573 Arena

Is 2020 the year Aryna Sabalenka finally realises her immense potential? You’d like to think so, but if it’s to happen starting here in Melbourne, it’s going to require the Belarussian to really hit the ground running with Carla Suarez Navarro on deck. A three-time quarterfinalist at the AO, Suarez Navarro definitely likes it here, and while Sabalenka leads the head-to-head 3-0, the most recent two were seesawing three-setters, so it would be fair to expect another such contest here. That said, Suarez Navarro’s artful game is always going to give a ball-striker of Sabalenka’s calibre some good opportunities, so if the latter comes in hot, she could use this as a chance to make an early statement of intent in a draw where she is very well positioned to make her maiden slam quarterfinal.

Alexander Zverev (GER) [7] v Marco Cecchinato (ITA) – Second Match, Night Session on Margaret Court Arena

One of those matchups that tells you the tennis gods have a real twisted sense of humour, crisis-stricken Sascha Zverev has been drawn across from a man who proved a master of the disappearing-act in 2019, Marco Cecchinato. On paper an opponent you wouldn’t think would trouble the German, the 2018 French Open semifinalist has turned into an abject disappointment since that magical run, and yet with the 6’6 Zverev seemingly forgetting how to serve, he now has a legitimate chance to right his own ship. That said maybe this is the match where Zverev finally gets his act together, but it’s hard to believe he could’ve made that much progress in the week since his ATP cup debacle ended, and really, you have to watch just to see if the meltdown will continue.


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