The 2012 Australian Open starts on Monday, Jan. 16th. However, tennis fans in North America should be advised that due to time zone changes it will still be Sunday afternoon/evening in their region.
Rod Laver Arena will feature five first round singles matches on the Day 1 order of play. Starting at 11am local time in Melbourne the schedule of play for Monday is as follows:
Victoria Azarenka vs Heather Watson
Bernard Tomic vs Fernando Verdasco
Kim Clijsters vs Maria Joao Koehler
Alexander Kudryavtsev vs Roger Federer
Caroline Wozniacki vs Anastasia Rodionova
The order of play is subject to change as marathon matches early in the day can push later matches to different start times and, in some cases, even different courts.
Of the five matches above, the one involving Tomic and Verdasco should be the most well-contested.
Tomic is ranked lower than Verdasco at the moment, however the 19-year-old is rising in the rankings and has a great deal of momentum right now. The Aussie will also be playing in front of a partisan Australian crowd and has some Grand Slam experience behind him, having made the quarterfinal of Wimbledon in 2011.
Verdasco did not play his best tennis last year. However he has played his best tennis in Melbourne in the past. Few will forget his charge to the semifinals in the 2009 event, where he took his Spanish compatriot Rafael Nadal to five sets before losing.
Juan Martin Del Potro and Nadal are also part of the Day 1 schedule, as they will play their opponents in Hisense Arena. At 11am Del Potro opens his campaign against Adrian Mannarino, while Nadal is scheduled for the late match on that court against qualifier Alex Kuznetsov.