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Australian Open - Five potential first-round upsets: Rafael Nadal and Matteo Berrettini dealt tricky openers

The first Grand Slam event of the season - the Australian Open - begins on Monday with the biggest names in tennis set to take to the hard courts in Melbourne.

Novak Djokovic is targeting a 10th title Down Under in the men's draw, while all eyes will be on Iga Swiatek in the women's competition after a superb 2022 season from the Pole.

But the first round is sure to trip up a few of the big guns, so here is a look at five potential first-round upsets in this year's Australian Open.

What2023 Australian Open & 2023 Australian Open Women
WhereMelbourne, Australia
WhenMonday 16th January - Sunday 29th January
How to watchEurosport
Odds

To win outright - Novak Djokovic 5/6, Danill Medvedev 6/1, Rafael Nadal 16/1

To win outright - Iga Swiatek 11/5, Aryna Sabalenka 7/1, Jessica Pegula 10/1

Veteran Murray could trouble Berrettini

Not since Fred Perry in 1934 has there been a British winner of the Australian Open but Andy Murray reached the final on five occasions between 2010 and 2016.

And while Murray's best days are clearly behind him, it is clear he likes the Melbourne hard courts and he should not be completely dismissed in his opener against Italy's Matteo Berrettini.

Berrettini is 3/10 favourite to win this high-profile first-round encounter, having reached the semi-finals of the Grand Slam last season, and his big-serving approach is definitely a danger.

But Berrettini failed to make much of an impact on the ATP tour last season with his campaign having been disrupted by surgery and the 13th seed is not necessarily a nailed-on winner in this clash.

Nadal showing signs of vulnerability

Rafael Nadal burst out of the blocks on last season's ATP tour, capitalising on the absence of Djokovic to win the Australian Open for only the second time in his career.

The Spaniard showed tremendous endurance in the first Grand Slam of 2022, recovering from two sets down to beat Daniil Medvedev in the final.

But while he goes into this year's edition of the tournament as defending champion and top seed, there are reasons for his first-round opponent Jack Draper to be optimistic.

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As ever, Nadal has been struggling with injuries heading into 2023 and for the first time in his career, he has started the season with back-to-back defeats, losing to Cameron Norrie and Alex De Minaur in the United Cup.

Of course, 4/11 shot Nadal could well up his game when the first Grand Slam rolls around but it is no foregone conclusion and Draper could be a value outside selection at 9/5.

Do not rush to back Rublev

Despite having long been considered one of the most promising players on the ATP tour, Andrey Rublev is yet to reach the semi-finals of a Grand Slam and he may even struggle in the first round of the Australian Open this season.

Rublev crashed out at the first sign of trouble in Melbourne last year, losing to 27th seed Marin Cilic in the third round, and he lost his opening matches in both editions of the Adelaide International this year.

He is 3/10 to come out on top in his opening Australian Open match against Dominic Thiem but punters should approach the game with caution.

Thiem is working his way up the ATP rankings after struggling with a wrist injury but remains a decent baseline player and he performed well on the indoor hard courts in October, when he made the semi-finals of the European Open.

Cornet can count on experience against Fernandez

Youngster Leylah Fernandez is 1/2 to progress from the first round at this year's Australian Open but her opponent Alize Cornet looks overpriced to prevail at 13/8.

For starters, Fernandez has never previously advanced beyond the first round in Melbourne, having been knocked out at this stage in each of the last three years.

Cornet, meanwhile, showed her class on the Melbourne courts last year with a run to the quarter-finals, beating experienced figures such as Garbine Muguruza and Simona Halep along the way and she could trouble the 20-year-old Canadian.

Azarenka should be wary of Kenin

Victoria Azarenka is 4/9 to get the better of Sofia Kenin in her first match at the Australian Open but punters could be forgiven for having reservations about backing the 33-year-old.

Azarenka's final appearance in 2022 saw her make the semi-finals of the Guadalajara Open but she has not been massively convincing in her two showings in the Adelaide International, firstly losing to Linda Noskova in the quarter-finals and then falling to Veronika Kudermetova in the round of 32.

Kenin, meanwhile, is fresh from making the last four at the Hobart International and could well spring a surprise.

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