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Australian Open - Day One preview: Iga Swiatek and Rafael Nadal begin key campaigns

It is nearly time for the first Grand Slam of the season - the Australian Open - and day one of the event in Melbourne features some big names, including Rafael Nadal and Iga Swiatek.

Nadal won the tournament last year and is targeting a record-extending 23rd Grand Slam, while after triumphing at both the French and US Opens in 2022, Swiatek will hope to add Melbourne glory to her haul.

Nadal unlikely to have things all his own way against Draper

WhatRafael Nadal v Jack Draper
WhereMelbourne, Australia
WhenMonday 16th January
How to watchEurosport, discovery+ and bet365's Sports Live Streaming
OddsRafael Nadal 4/11, Jack Draper 11/5

Many questioned who would take control in the absence of Novak Djokovic at last year's Australian Open and it was Nadal who rose to the top, claiming the first of two Grand Slam titles of 2022.

It was not plain sailing for the Spaniard, though, as he found himself two sets down in the Melbourne final to Daniil Medvedev, and this year he will once again have to compete with Djokovic on the Australian hard courts.

Nadal is the top seed for the first Grand Slam of the season but there is tempered enthusiasm around the Spaniard, who lost the first two games of a season for the first time in his career this month, going down to Alex De Minaur and Cameron Norrie in the United Cup.

Injury has also continued to cause Nadal problems in the build-up to his 2023 campaign and he has himself admitted he could be "vulnerable" in his opener against promising Briton Jack Draper.

Draper is fresh from making the semi-finals of the Adelaide International 2 and could be worth a bet to win two sets against a wounded Nadal at 1/1.

Swiatek should face few issues in opener

WhatIga Swiatek v Jule Niemeier
WhereMelbourne, Australia
WhenMonday 16th January
How to watchEurosport, discovery+ and bet365's Sports Live Streaming
OddsIga Swiatek 1/12, Jule Niemeier 7/1

Swiatek was the standout talent on the WTA Tour last season and her blistering campaign began with a run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open.

Since then, the Pole enjoyed a 37-game unbeaten run in 2022 and also added two more Grand Slam titles to her collection - the French Open and US Open titles.

She is well-fancied to start on the front foot in Melbourne at 1/12 to beat unseeded German Jule Niemeier and it is hard to dispute the prices.

Swiatek was last in action in the end-of-year WTA Finals and, although she crashed out in the semi-finals against Aryna Sabalenka, she was a comfortable winner in her other three games, racking up at least seven more games than each of her opponents in those encounters.

She could represent value at -6.5 on the Match Handicap (Games) against Niemeier, available at 10/11.

Expect another Sinner success against Edmund

WhatKyle Edmund v Jannik Sinner
WhereMelbourne, Australia
WhenMonday 16th January
How to watchEurosport, discovery+ and bet365's Sports Live Streaming
OddsKyle Edmund 9/1, Jannik Sinner 1/16

Kyle Edmund is another British hopeful looking to cause a stir this week but, with a protected ranking to his name, could be out of his depth against Jannik Sinner in his opener.

The 15th seeded Italian has already got the better of Edmund this year, beating him 6-3 6-2 in the first running of the Adelaide International.

Sinner crashed out against Sebastian Korda in the quarter-finals of that event and has never gone beyond the last eight of the Australian Open. However, that is more of a concern for later down the line and he should have few issues in this one.

Sinner could be a value selection to win 3-0 in the Set Betting at 8/13.

Gauff looks to build on breakthrough 2022

WhatKaterina Siniakova vs Coco Gauff
WhereMelbourne, Australia
WhenMonday 16th January
How to watchEurosport, discovery+ and bet365's Sports Live Streaming
OddsKaterina Siniakova 11/4, Coco Gauff 2/7

Although still only 18, Coco Gauff has emerged as a serious threat on the WTA Tour, having made the final of the French Open and the quarter-finals of the US Open last year.

The American teenager is one to keep an eye on this season and will be looking to better her best effort of the fourth round at the Australian Open 12 months ago.

Gauff warmed up for the Melbourne major in style, comfortably winning the ASB Classic.

She was by no means facing the world's best in that event but she won all five of her games in straight sets and picked up seven or more games than her opponents in four of those matches.

With that in mind, she is worth chancing the 5/6 at -4.5 on the Match Handicap (Games) against Katerina Siniakova in the first round of the Australian Open.

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