THE Australian Open of tennis kicks off on Monday, showcasing the sport’s biggest names as they descend on Melbourne Park for a shot at immortality.
Day one will see some huge names competing, but Australia’s focus will no doubt be on retiring superstar Lleyton Hewitt, who will be lacing up for his final ever Melbourne Park appearance.
We have pored over the schedules and calculated permutations at Melbourne and picked out our four best bets for day one at the Australian Open.
All odds provided by Sportbet.com.au
James Duckworth vs. Lleyton Hewitt
Lleyton Hewitt’s Australian Open swansong kicks off on day one, but unfortunately the Aussie firebrand is forced to meet compatriot James Duckworth in the first round.
This will be the first time that Hewitt and Duckworth have clashed in a singles match on the tour, with their only meeting on the doubles arena.
Duckworth has displayed great promise throughout his career but has failed to take the next step to match it with the game’s elite.
Hewitt’s record at Grand Slam’s speaks for itself, and despite being in the twilight of his career the wily veteran still possesses the tenacity and fire that made him one of the game’s greats.
Expect Hewitt’s farewell to roll into the second round where the South Australian veteran is likely to meet eighth seed David Ferrer.
Multi leg one: Lleyton Hewitt to win the match – $1.71
Rafael Nadal vs. Fernando Verdasco
It is a battle of the Spaniards with world number five Rafael Nadal facing against fellow countryman Fernando Verdasco.
The two men played one of the all-time great matches in Australian Open history back in 2009, a five set semi-final epic which saw eventual champion Nadal overcome Verdasco who was in the form of his life.
The pair have met 17 times across their careers, with Nadal dominating his compatriot 15-2 in that period.
The two victories that Verdasco had over Nadal have come in their last three meetings, which means the world number 47 will take plenty of confidence going into the match.
It is unlikely that Verdasco can progress past the former Australian Open champion, but there is every possibility he will be able to at least snatch a set from the fifth seed.
Multi leg two: Fernando Verdasco to win at least one set – yes – $2.00
Aljaz Bedene vs. Steve Johnson
Slovenian Aljaz Bedene and American Steven Johnson both kick off their Australian Open campaigns on day one.
Bedene has failed to make it past the first round at the Australian Open in three attempts, but the 26-year-old achieved a career best ranking of 45 at the end of last year – a position he currently holds.
The Slovenian has been in good form so far this year, making it through to the semi-final of the Chennai Open.
World number 45 Steve Johnson had his best year to date in 2015, making it to the third round at both the Australian and French Open.
The 26-year-old has failed to win so far this year – losing in the opening round of the Brisbane and Auckland Open.
The two men have never met on the competitive circuit.
Winning form is good form, so we are tipping Bedene to cause an upset in the opening round against the American.
Multi leg three: Aljaz Bedene to win the match – $2.58
Jerzy Janowicz vs. John Isner
Last leg of our Australian Open sees world number 11 John Isner squaring off against world number 57 Jerzy Janowicz.
This will be the first time the players have met in an ATP sanctioned match.
The 30-year-old American Isner has not had great success at the Australian Open in the past, with his best finish a fourth round appearance in 2010.
Polish played Jerzy Janowicz has been ranked as high as 14th in the ATP rankings, but after suffering a foot injury two years ago the 25-year-old currently sits at 57 in the world.
Janowicz best finish at an Australian Open is the third round exit on three occasions, 2013, 14 and 15.
Despite displaying plenty of talent in the past, Janowicz will struggle to match the heavy hitting Isner.
Isner’s $1.30 quote looks to be overs for a match that should be a formality for the 11th seed.
Multi leg four: John Isner to win the match $1.30
Overall mutli value $11.47