All the key facts and talking points as the first Grand Slam of the year gets underway in Melbourne.
WTA Staff
January 14, 2018

LEARNING

Caroline Wozniacki and Mihaela Buzarnescu meet for only the second time - and also for the second consecutive Grand Slam first round. Dane Wozniacki prevailed in the opening match at the US Open five months ago, winning 6-1, 7-5 against her Romanian opponent.

Alison Riske is yet to lose in three meetings against Kirsten Flipkens, beating the Belgian in straight sets in San Antonio two years ago and Nurnberg last year before progressing to the quarterfinals in Hobart earlier this month via a walkover.

Dominika Cibulkova's sole victory in four previous encounters with Kaia Kanepi came in Moscow in 2011, over three sets. That followed defeats in Paris earlier that year and in Sydney in 2008, and was followed by another reverse against the Estonian, in Brussels in 2013.

Sloane Stephens is without a victory over Shuai Zhang since 2013, losing in Birmingham the following year having prevailed in Carlsbad in 2008 and Brussels five years later.

Seeking to avoid a first-round exit at the Australian Open for the third year in five, Venus Williams could not have wished for a better opponent to start with in Melbourne in 2018. The American has won all four of her meetings with Belinda Bencic, winning in Luxembourg in 2012, the French Open in 2014 and in Dubai and at the US Open in 2015.

All three of Daria Gavrilova and Irina Falconi's previous match-ups came in 2015. The Australian's victories in Burnie and Launceston were avenged within the same year by the American in Beijing. 

Francesca Schiavone has suffered four first-round defeats in her last five Australian Opens, having made the quarterfinals as her best showing in 2011.

TRENDING

Can’t wait to wear my new @australianopen outfit @nikecourt #mostwanted

A post shared by Elina Svitolina?? (@elisvitolina) on

Getting ready ? #HereToCreate

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Enjoying the sunset ? #views

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READING

Jerry Bembry of ESPN believes Sloane Stephens has work to do if she is to maintain her Grand Slam form from the US Open.

Ashleigh Barty tells Paul Newman of The Independent that she is relishing the opportunity to show home crowds her fine form, despite defeat in Sydney to Angelique Kerber at the weekend.

In The Age, Elina Svitolina says she does not feel the pressures of being favorite for a Grand Slam.

Stanley Kay of Sports Illustrated tips Naomi Osaka to make her mark in Melbourne over the next fortnight.

ORDER OF PLAY

Find out who is up first on the opening day in Melbourne.

WATCHING

Caroline Wozniacki tells WTA Tennis that she is hopeful of maintaining her form from the end of 2017, when she won the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.