After a first day marked by a flurry of upsets, Day 2 at the Australian Open will be under the sign of the returns.
Wawrinka and Djokovic come back
As the bottom half of the men’s draw, and the top half of the ladies’, are set to début on Tuesday, in Melbourne, the second day of action at the Australian Open also marks the return to competition of Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic. Both players have been sidelined since Wimbledon, and are making a much anticipated comeback.
What shall we expect from the two stars upon their return? The Swiss is cautious, but happy: “For me, I think the fact that I’m here and I’m going to play the first one, it’s a big victory”, he said. “It’s the best that I could have dream when I had the surgery, is to be here sitting in front of you and to say, Okay, I’m going to play the first match. That’s something really good from my side, especially from the knee. The knee is getting way better. I still have a lot of work to do physically and also tennis-wise to be to my top level. I’m going to take the time I need for that. I know I need to get through those — I need to start somewhere anyway. I think here was a good start. It’s a good place to start, to get pushed, to see also mentally how I’m going to react, how I’m going to feel when I’m going to be playing matches.”
Djokovic has a similar frame of mind: “It hasn’t been 100% yet healed. But right now it’s at the level where I can compete, and every day is getting better. I’m hoping that it can be 100% at the start of the tournament. Throughout the tournament, I don’t know how it’s going to behave. Even if it’s 100% healed, after six months of no competition, you never know how you’re going to react. So let’s see. There’s not much more I can do. I’ve done really everything in my power, with a team of people around me, to enable me to be right here in front of you guys, and to compete in Australian Open”, said the Serbian.
Both Djokovic (14) and Wawrinka (9) should take the court at the same time, at approximately 15:00 local time (23:00 ET on Monday). The Serbian will open against Donald Young on MCA, whereas the Swiss will face Ricardas Berankis on Hisense.
Another player is set to come back at Melbourne Park, as Milos Raonic (22) will play his second match of the season after missing a few months of action (he lost to Alex de Minaur on his Brisbane début). The Canadian will face Lukas Lacko first up on Show Court 2, at 11:00 local time (19:00 ET).
Other matches to follow on Day 2 at the Australian Open
Both the men’s second seed and the women’s top seed are set to make their début on Day 2.
Opening his Australian Open campaign at the beginning of the night session, defending champion Roger Federer (2) will face Aljaz Bedene.
“This year I hope to win the first few rounds and get rolling hopefully, whereas last year I was just hoping to win”, said the Swiss. “It was more of a ‘let’s see what happens’ kind of tournament, maybe similar to what Novak or Stan or others are going through this year. It’s like, let’s just see what happens.”
Does he feel like he is the favourite to win the title and defend his crown? “With age, I play down my chances just because I don’t think a 36-year-old should be a favourite of a tournament, it should not be the case”, he declared. “That’s why I see things more relaxed, at a later stage of my career.”
The ladies’ top seed, Simona Halep, will also make her début on Tuesday. The Romanial will face Aussie Destanee Aiava around 14:30 local time (22:30 ET).
The matches of the day
On the men’s side, the match of the day will be the one between Juan Martín del Potro (12) and Frances Tiafoe. The Argentine, freshly back in the top 10, comes to Melbourne after losing to Roberto Bautista Agut in the Auckland final and will want to start his Australian Open campaign on the right foot. The encounter will be last on MCA, at approximately 21:00 local time (5:00 ET).
On the ladies’ side, the encounter between Ashleigh Barty (18) and Aryna Sabalenka should be interesting to watch. The Belorussian has reached the quarter-finals in both Shenzhen (l. to Halep) and Hobart (l. to Tsurenko), and might give trouble to the Aussie, fresh out from the Sydney finals. The match will be last on Rod Laver Arena, at approximately 21:00 local time (5:00 ET).
Other featured matches
Here are the other matches to follow on Day 2:
-  Karolina Pliskova vs Veronica Cepede Royg (11:00 local – 19:00 ET Monday)
-  Lucie Safarova vs Ajla Tomljanovic (11:00 local – 19:00 ET Monday)
-  Roberto Bautista Agut vs Fernando Verdasco (11:00 local – 19:00 ET Monday)
-  Alexander Zverev vs Tomas Fabbiano (13:00 local – 21:00 ET Monday)
- Maria Sharapova vs Tatjana Maria (13:00 local – 21:00 ET Monday)
-  Angelique Kerber vs Anna-Lena Friedsam (13:00 local – 21:00 ET Monday)
-  David Goffin vs Matthias Bachinger (13:00 local – 21:00 ET Monday)
-  Mirjana Lucic-Baroni vs Shelby Rogers (13:00 local – 21:00 ET Monday)
- Aliaksandra Sasnovich vs Christina McHale (13:00 local – 21:00 ET Monday)
-  Petra Kvitova vs Andrea Petkovic (15:00 local – 23:00 ET Monday)
- Daniil Medvedev vs Thanasi Kokkinakis (15:00 local – 23:00 ET Monday)
- Gaël Monfils vs Jaume Munar (15:00 local – 23:00 ET Monday)
-  Dominic Thiem vs Guido Pella (17:00 local – 1:00 ET Tuesday)
-  Mischa Zverev vs Chung Hyeon (17:00 local – 1:00 ET Tuesday)
-  Tomas Berdych vs Alex de Minaur (18:45 local – 2:45 ET Tuesday)
-  Garbiñe Muguruza vs Jessika Ponchet (19:00 local – 3:00 ET Tuesday)