Australian Open, Day 4: Djokovic Faces Massive Early Monfils Test

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Australian Open, Day 4: Djokovic Faces Massive Early Monfils Test

Novak Djokovic v Gael Monfils

An outstanding tie for the early stages of any tournament, this match will certainly test the early 2018 fitness of Novak Djokovic and his problem elbow. As for Gael Monfils, in his own return from injury recently, he already has a title to his name this year, having beaten young talent Andrey Rublev convincingly in the Doha final in the first week of January. Monfils is looking hungry, swinging well and would love to deny Djokovic the chance at further testing his own abilities in the year’s first slam. Should be one of the showstoppers of round two. The winner is anyone's guess.

Simona Halep v Eugenie Bouchard

Simona Halep had a tough first-round match against Destanee Aiava and seemed to hurt her ankle on the way to victory. How she stands up in her first match after that might tell us a lot about her desire to win this title and overcome such issues – and finally claim a maiden slam. As for Eugenie Bouchard, well, her recent form has been anything but good, and she might feel she has little to lose. A player with the undeniable talent she doesn’t seem to be fulfilling her own potential. This is a chance for a big win that would give her some confidence with which to go forward. She should leave it all on the court, especially if Halep isn’t fully fit.

Hyeon Chung v Daniil Medvedev

Another meeting between two of the NextGen players. Hyeon Chung looks better by the match, learning, growing and heading for the top of the game. Daniil Medvedev has shown some real mettle of late with some of his recent victories. Especially given the manner and the way he has beaten the crowds who were behind the Australian players as well as the on-court opponents he faced. This should be a wonderful encounter between two very promising young men. 

Anastasia Sevastova v Maria Sharapova

This pair had an enthralling match in the 4th round at last year’s US Open, with Anastasia Sevastova narrowly coming through in three sets. Maria Sharapova would love to avenge that defeat. She seems to be on a mission to claw her way back up to the top of the tree of women’s tennis, and opportunities such as Grand Slams without either Williams sister in the second round are perfect. Sevastova has a fiery game and will present a substantial obstacle to Sharapova, as before. It could be three long sets and it could be a cracker of a second-round match.

Karen Khachanov v Juan Martin del Potro

Another key match from round two. One of the most experienced and talented players around, Juan Martin del Potro has just got back into the ATP Top 10 for the first time in over three years. He is in good early form and is one of the few players who could realistically challenge Federer and Nadal in the draw. Karen Khachanov is one of the most promising young players, as seen over the last year or so. He has a huge game, much like his opponent in this match, can hit winners from anywhere, and could prove a huge early test for del Potro. Expect a physical and long battle, with fireworks going off throughout.

Other highlights:

Naomi Osaka v Elena Vesnina

Angelique Kerber v Donna Vekic