Australian Open first round: British trio in action on day two
Serbian superstar Novak Djokovic (10/11 odds-on title favourite) starts his bid to reclaim the Australian Open trophy, as he faces Slovenian qualifier Aljaz Bedene, who has never progressed past the first round at a Grand Slam, on day two.
Elsewhere, British men James Ward and Kyle Edmund face tricky, but not impossible, ties against Fernando Verdasco and Steve Johnson respectively.
The likes of rising stars Kei Nishikori (14/1 tournament chance) and Milos Raonic (33/1), David Ferrer (50/1), home hope Lleyton Hewitt and defending champion Stan Wawrinka (14/1) are also in action from the men’s section.
In the women’s draw, Heather Watson is Britain’s main hope for the day, as she comes into this tournament on the back of winning her second WTA Tour event, at the Hobart International. The Guernsey-born youngster goes up first against former Wimbledon semi-finalist Tsvetana Pironkova.
Other top names that feature on day two include four-time champion Serena Williams (5/2 to win), Caroline Wozniacki (12/1), Agnieszka Radwanska (22/1), Petra Kvitova (8/1).
Djokovic may find his first round match tougher than first thought, as the Serb, who has won here four times before (last in 2013), has been suffering from illness leading up to the event.
“I had a tough couple days but it’s all behind me now. I’m ready,” he confined, though.
He is heavily odds-on with Coral at 1/100 to beat Bedene, and a more enticing 5/1 chance to do so 3-1 in sets.
London-born Ward takes part in only his second Australian main draw event, and is a tempting 3/1 shout to knock out big-hitting left-hander Verdasco (2/9), who reached the semi-finals here in 2009.
South African-born Yorkshire-based Edmund, meanwhile, faces a slightly easier challenge, according to Coral’s odds for him to win at 5/2, against American Johnson.
Britain’s only female representative this year, Watson, will be hoping to carry on her fine form, and she is the slight odds-on favourite at 4/5 to beat Bulgarian Pironkova (10/11), who has reached the second round here six times, but no further.
Watson has gone one better, making it to the third round in 2013, and she is a 250/1 outside tournament chance.