Venus Williams' clash with Coco Gauff headlines the Australian Open first round, but former champion Stan Wawrinka also faces an early test in Melbourne.

Williams and Gauff will meet for the second time in what is a blockbuster opening-round encounter.

But there are several intriguing clashes in the first round at the year's first grand slam and we take a look at six of the best.

 

Damir Dzumhur v Stan Wawrinka [15]

Wawrinka would have preferred a friendlier draw than a man he has lost to in two of their three meetings. The Swiss 2014 champion was resurgent last year, while Dzumhur has been unable to replicate the form of his breakout season in 2017. Still, the Bosnian beat Wawrinka in three sets on clay in Geneva last year so the three-time grand slam champion will have to be near his best.

Daniil Medvedev [4] v Frances Tiafoe

Tiafoe thrilled during a run to the quarter-finals in Melbourne last year, but that would prove to be the high point of his 2019. The American has made a slow start to 2020 with first-round losses in Doha and Auckland, but was competitive against Medvedev in a 6-2 7-5 loss in Washington last year. After a spectacular 2019 that included reaching the US Open final, Medvedev shapes as the most likely to stop the 'Big Three', although he will need to get through a somewhat tricky opener first.

Sam Querrey v Borna Coric [25]

While he has dropped off since 2017, Querrey will fancy his chances against Coric after the Croatian's difficult finish to last year. Coric finished 2019 with six straight losses and suffered two more at the ATP Cup, to go with a win over Dominic Thiem. After four consecutive first-round exits in Melbourne, Coric reached the fourth round last year, while Querrey has never been beyond the third round in Melbourne. Coric won their only previous meeting at the French Open in 2015.

Venus Williams v Coco Gauff

Arguably the pick of any first-round match, the 39-year-old Williams meets the 15-year-old Gauff once more. Gauff stunned Williams 6-4 6-4 at Wimbledon last year and her ranking then (313) compared to now (66) tells the story of how she finished 2019 as the teenager followed it up with a title win in Linz. Williams withdrew from Brisbane due to injury, making this a hugely tough task for the seven-time grand slam singles champion.

Kristina Mladenovic v Karolina Pliskova [2]

Pliskova has enjoyed Melbourne in recent years, reaching at least the quarter-finals in each of the past three, but was handed a tough start in 2020. The Czech is coming off a title win in Brisbane and that will give her much-needed confidence ahead of facing former world number 10 Mladenovic. The pair have split their previous four meetings, with Mladenovic winning the last of those in 2017.

Donna Vekic [19] v Maria Sharapova

A wildcard, Sharapova was always going to be the danger in the draw – and she landed alongside 19th seed Vekic. Vekic enjoyed a fine 2019 to rise into the world's top 20, while Sharapova battled injuries and has fallen to 145th in the rankings. Vekic should be the favourite to advance, but if five-time major winner Sharapova can find some form, the Russian is always a threat and last bowed out in the opening round in Melbourne in 2010.

Dominic Thiem ended his Fernando Verdasco hoodoo to reach the quarter-finals of the Vienna Open in his homeland.

Top seed Thiem had lost all four matches against the experienced Spaniard before coming from behind to secure a 3-6 6-3 6-2 victory on Thursday.

The world number five will face Pablo Carreno Busta in his 11th last-eight encounter of another impressive season after recovering from a poor start.

Verdasco charged into a 3-0 lead and did not face a break point in the first set, but Thiem won 97 per cent of points on serve in the second as he forced a decider.

Thiem dominated the final set, Verdasco winning just one point on the Austrian's serve to bow out in the second round.

Andrey Rublev's hopes of winning back-to-back titles are still alive after the Russian beat Hyeon Chung 6-4 6-2.

Rublev, winner of the Kremlin Cup on home soil last weekend, will take on Matteo Berrettini, while fourth seed Gael Monfils defeated teenage wildcard Jannik Sinner 6-3 7-6 (10-8).

Diego Schwartzman accounted for Sam Querrey with a 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 7-6 (7-5) victory and Pablo Carreno Busta needed three sets to get past Mikhail Kukushkin, with Aljaz Bedene also advancing at the expense of Gilles Simon.

Andy Murray reached his first ATP Tour singles semi-final for over two years by rolling up his sleeves to overcome Marius Copil in the European Open on Friday.

The three-time grand slam champion's persistence paid off as he battled past Copil with a 6-3 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 victory in Antwerp.

Murray squandered a 4-1 lead in a second set he lost after holding the same advantage in a tie-break, with Copil saving a match point. 

The Brit was not to be denied a place in the last four, winning what was his second quarter-final since returning from hip resurfacing surgery after claiming the only break of the final set.

Ugo Humbert stands in the way of Murray and a place in the final after coming from a set down to beat Guido Pella 5-7 6-4 6-4.

Fourth seed Stan Wawrinka outlasted Gilles Simon 6-3 6-7 (6-8) 6-2 and will face Jannik Sinner, who became the youngest ATP semi-finalist since 2014 when he got past Frances Tiafoe 6-4 3-6 6-3.

There will be no back-to-back Kremlin Cup triumphs for Karen Khachanov in his homeland after Andreas Seppi beat the defending champion 3-6 6-3 6-3.

Seppi has reached at least the quarter-finals in his past six appearances in Moscow and will face Adrian Mannarino - a straight-sets winner against Dusan Lajovic - for a place in the final after claiming the scalp of the second seed.

Marin Cilic took out Jeremy Chardy 6-4 4-6 7-6 (7-2) and will go up against Andrey Rublev, who saw the back of Nikola Milojevic 6-2 6-3.

There will be no dream swansong for Janko Tipsarevic at the Stockholm Open after Yuichi Sugita ended the Serbian's career with a 6-2 4-6 7-6 (7-4) triumph, booking a semi-final showdown with Denis Shapovalov.

Shapovalov eased to a 6-0 6-3 defeat of Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, while Pablo Carreno Busta beat Sam Querrey and will face Filip Krajinovic - conqueror of Yoshihito Nishioka.

Karen Khachanov thrilled the Moscow crowd as he saved five match points before overcoming veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber at the Kremlin Cup.

The world number eight, top seed and defending champion at the ATP 250 event, found himself 5-3 down in the decider but refused to buckle as Kohlschreiber eyed a notable scalp on his 36th birthday.

Khachanov – now the focus of home hopes after Daniil Medvedev's withdrawal due to fatigue - repelled three match points to force a tie-break and his calmness from the baseline saw him through more trouble to prevail 3-6 6-3 7-6 (9-7).

Andreas Seppi is up next for Khachanov after the experienced Italian similarly came from a set down to beat Roberto Carballes Baena 5-7 6-1 6-3.

Serbian fourth seed Dusan Lajovic also went the distance against Lukas Rosol, coming through 6-4 6-7 (8-6) 6-3 to beat his Czech opponent and set up a quarter-final clash against last year's runner-up Adrian Mannarino – a straight-sets winner over Mikhail Kukushkin.

Stan Wawrinka returned to action at the European Open, competing for the first time since his US Open quarter-final loss, and his troublesome knee was given a thorough workout by Feliciano Lopez.

The two seasoned campaigners provided plenty of entertainment - a sumptuous backhand half-volley at the net in the first set serving as a particular highlight from Wawrinka, who came through 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 7-6 (7-4).

The 34-year-old Swiss will take on Gilles Simon in the quarter-finals after the world number 47 came through his all-French clash against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4 7-5.

Andy Murray will face Pablo Cuevas in round two after the eighth-seeded Uruguayan beat Hugo Dellien 6-4 6-3, while Guido Pella ensured further South American success by beating Kwon Soon-woo 7-5 7-5 to earn a quarter-final place.

Frances Tiafoe's reward for breaking a three-match losing streak, defeating Yannick Maden, will be a meeting with another German opponent in Jan-Lennard Struff.

At the Stockholm Open, US Open semi-finalist and second seed Grigor Dimitrov was dumped out by Sam Querrey, losing 6-7 (7-9) 6-3 7-6 (7-3). Taylor Fritz was another seed to fall – 7-5 6-4 against Yoshihito Nishioka,

Filip Krajinovic is up next for Nishioka after beating Dan Evans 7-5 2-6 6-3.

Andy Murray advanced to the second round at the European Open with a straight-sets win over Kimmer Coppejans.

The former world number one triumphed 6-4 7-6 (7-4) to win a match in two sets for just the second time since August.

He was made to work hard by Coppejans, who broke Murray three times in total, including in his first two service games in the second set, but the Briton eventually prevailed in an hour and 45 minutes.

Seventh seed Jan-Lennard Struff dropped just three games in beating Gregoire Barrere, while Gilles Simon and Feliciano Lopez were among the other players to advance.

At the Kremlin Cup, home hope Andrey Rublev overcame Alexander Bublik 6-1 3-6 6-4.

After taking the opener, Rublev then lost the first five games in a row en route to losing the second set and the sixth seed was a break down in the decider only to rally and progress.

Ivo Karlovic staved off a match point and won a third-set tie-break against Aljaz Bedene to progress, along with Jeremy Chardy and Philipp Kohlschreiber, who beat Nicolas Jarry and Pierre-Hugues Herbert respectively.

Pablo Carreno Busta was the only seed in action at the Stockholm Open and he defeated John Millman 6-4 6-3, with Sam Querrey among those to also go through.

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