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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Djokovic, Federer and Sharapova start campaigns: Australian Open games to watch - Day 2

Home favourite Alex De Minaur takes on Tomas Berdych and all-Spanish affair as Roberto Bautisa Agut faces Fernando Verdasco

Novak Djokovic starts his Australian Open challenge on Tuesday against Donald Young. Lukas Coch / EPA
Novak Djokovic starts his Australian Open challenge on Tuesday against Donald Young. Lukas Coch / EPA

Ahead of the second day of action at the Australian Open on Tuesday, the first grand slam of the 2018 tennis season, here are some of the main matches to watch out for. All times mentioned are UAE (+4 GMT).

The full schedule for Tuesday's play on the main show courts can be found here.

Novak Djokovic (SRB X 14) v Donald Young (USA)

Third match on Margaret Court Arena, likely to start 7am (UAE time)

Djokovic's first serious match for six months after taking time out due to an elbow injury. The Serbian looked good against Dominic Thiem in their warm-up contest at the Kooyong Classic last week, and he should have too much for world No 61 Young. But the men's field will be watching Djokovic intently to see what shape his game is in. If he is fit, and more importantly focused, he has the game to win the event for a seventh time.

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Tatjana Maria (GER) v Maria Sharapova (RUS)

Second match on Margaret Court Arena, likely to start 5.30-6am (UAE time)

Sharapova's first appearance at the Australian Open since her quarter-final defeat to Serena Williams two year ago. A lot has been made of the unpredictable nature to the women's draw with no Williams in the field. But Sharapova is a past Melbourne champion, having prevailed in 2008. Whether she still has it in her to win seven matches over two weeks is questionable, but how she fares against the world No 46, who is actually one place ahead of her in the WTA rankings at present, should give an indicator of what we can expect from the Russian.

Aljaz Bedene (SLO) v Roger Federer (SUI x2)

First evening match on Rod Laver Arena, midday

Federer has never lost in his previous 18 first round matches at the Australian Open and there is no reason to expect that record will be broken against Bedene. The world No 2 was a rejuvenated figure in 2017 when he won the Melbourne title for a fifth time, and while he is apparently surprised to be considered favourite at the age of 36 to win the tournament, given his excellence over the past 12 months it is no shock to anyone else.

Tomas Berdych (CZE x19) v Alex De Minaur (AUS)

Late match on the Hisense Arena, 11.45am

There will be a lot of home support for De Minaur as he looks to upset 19th-seeded Berdych. The 18-year-old Australian has created a lot of interest after his run to the final of the Sydney International last week and he certainly has momentum behind him. It should make for an intriguing encounter as Berdych has traditionally done well in Melbourne, making at least the last eight for successive tournaments between 2011 and 2016, and was semi-finalist in 2014 and 2015.

Roberto Bautista Agut (20) v Fernando Verdasco

First match on Court 7, 4am

An all-Spanish affair. Bautista Agut is in good nick having won the Auckland Open last week. The world No 20 said in Abu Dhabi last month at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship that he was confident of 2018 being the year he kicks on and reaches his first grand slam quarter-final, or better. Verdasco is in the twilight years of his career, but he can still be an obdurate opponent at times and this is not an easy first-round match for Bautista Agut.