Australian Open 2021 Day 1 Preview: Five AO 2021 matches to watch out for on first day

Australian Open 2021 Day 1 Preview: Five AO 2021 matches to watch out for on first day: Australian Open 2021 gets underway with a packed schedule of matches on Monday – here’s our pick of the best of them. Aus Open 2021 matches will be aired LIVE and exclusive on Sony SIX, Sony LIV, Sony Ten 2 and Sony Ten 3 (Hindi) catch the live action on insidesport.co

Also Read:Australian Open 2021 Draw: Check full schedule, Key players, time in India and seedings, LIVE Streaming; All you need to know about AO2021 draws

Denis Shapovalov  vs Jannik Sinner
In what promises to be a blockbuster, the top-ranked Canadian faces off against the in-form Italian, who claimed the Great Ocean Road title on Sunday. Expect scintillating shotmaking in this first-ever meeting between the pair who, at 21 and 19 respectively, may look back on this clash as the foundation of a long rivalry.

After two weeks of practice in Adelaide last month with AO 2009 champion Rafael Nadal, Sinner meets another southpaw in Shapovalov, who similarly delivers his best results on hard courts. The Canadian is seeking to better his third-round appearance in Melbourne in 2019, where he fell to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in four sets.

Naomi Osaka vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Power and precision? Expect both in this intriguing match-up. AO 2019 champion Osaka, unbeaten since February 2020, thrives on hard courts and at just 23, can navigate her way through a major like a veteran. The Japanese fan favourite can expect a spirited challenge from the Russian, who has reached three of her six career Grand Slam quarterfinals here in Melbourne.

Last year, Pavlyuchenkova toppled seeds including Karolina Pliskova and Angelique Kerber en route to the final eight. The duo has a 1-1 head-to-head record, each recording straight-sets wins – Osaka’s being the most recent, in September 2019.

Kei Nishikori vs Pablo Carreno Busta 
This is a rematch two years in the making. The Japanese former world No. 4 came back from a two-sets-to-love deficit against Carreno Busta at Australian Open 2019 to clinch victory after a grueling five-setter that featured three tiebreaks and lasted over five hours. A stalwart on tour and seeded at majors for the bulk of the past decade, Nishikori has reached four quarterfinals in Melbourne, but he’ll need to produce his best to post an upset over Carreno Busta.

Carreno Busta was in fine form for Spain in the ATP Cup
The 29 year-old’s best results come on hard courts – the Spaniard made the semifinals of the US Open just five months ago, a feat he’d previously achieved in 2017.

Bianca Andreescu vs Mihaela Buzarnescu 
Tennis fans have been waiting for Andreescu’s comeback with bated breath. Sidelined by injury since 2019, shortly after capturing her maiden Grand Slam in New York, many are wondering if the Canuck will pick up where she left off: unflappable, explosive and fearless.

The 20 year-old’s return to competitive tennis pits her against Buzarnescu, a left-handed Romanian who isn’t afraid of big stages or players in the top 10 – she eliminated Elina Svitolina in straight sets at Roland Garros 2018, and took a set off Simona Halep during their second-round match at Wimbledon 2019.

Grigor Dimitrov vs Marin Cilic
Get your popcorn ready. It’s a role reversal from the last time these players dueled at Roland Garros 2019, when the unseeded Dimitrov upset Cilic, then seeded 11th, in a memorable five-setter. The Bulgarian, who posted his best result in Melbourne in 2017 by reaching the semifinals (lost to Nadal), will need to dig deep to earn victory over the Croat, who he’s beaten just twice in six head-to-head meetings.

Cilic, the former world No. 3, reached the Australian Open 2018 final, where he lost to Roger Federer. Despite being unseeded in Melbourne last year, Cilic took out seeds Roberto Bautista Agut and Benoit Paire, both in five-set marathons.