Australian Open 2013: Top Contenders to Watch for in Melbourne on Day 2

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IJanuary 14, 2013

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 13:  Andy Murray of Great Britain plays a backhand during a practice session ahead of the 2013 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 13, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Scott Barbour/Getty Images

If Day 1 at the 2013 Australian Open was any indication, Day 2 from Melbourne Park promises to deliver a few intriguing results and storylines of its own.

With several big-name stars, including a few past champions set to begin their chase for the 2013's first Grand Slam championship, tennis fans won't want to miss any of the opening-round action from Down Under. 

Let's take a closer look a trio of serious contenders to keep an eye on in the first round on Day 2.


Victoria Azarenka (1) Begins Her Defense

The reigning Australian Open women's champion, Victoria Azarenka will begin her title defense against unseeded Monica Niculescu. The 23-year-old top seed should cruise past her first-round opponent, but that doesn't mean fans shouldn't tune in to see what type of form the Belarusian is in.

She dropped out at the semifinal stage of the WTA Brisbane International a week ago because of infected big toe. Azarenka is apparently healed up and ready to go, based on this recent tweet:

With @djokernole this morning for the draw ceremony. Hot and sunny day. That's why we are wearing glasses :) #AO2013…

— victoria azarenka (@vika7) January 11, 2013



Roger Federer (2) Aiming For Fifth Aussie Title

One of just two men in the Open era to win the Australian Open at least four times (the other is Andre Agassi), men's No. 2 seed Roger Federer will take on Benoit Paire of France in the first round on Day 2. Fed will be well-rested after taking significant time off following last November's ATP World Tour Finals, but will still have to prove he is capable of winning Down Under at the age of 31.

Despite his age, Fed is almost a lock for the semis, considering he has made it to that stage in each of the last nine Australian Opens.

He hasn't won since 2010 however, coming in short in the semis in each of the past two years. 


Andy Murray (3) Looking to Make it Two in a Row

The most recent Grand Slam champion on the men's side, Andy Murray will look to win his second major and first Aussie Open this January. The 25-year-old finally has the monkey off his back and can now focus on playing his best tennis rather than silencing the critics. 

Murray will open the tournament on Day 2, taking on Dutch player Robin Haase in the first round. Murray will obviously be a heavy favorite, but how quickly he will put Haase away remains to be seen.

Despite entering Australia as the No. 3-seeded man, Murray has proven as of late that he can down both Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer on the grand stage. 


Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter throughout the 2013 Australian Open for more reaction and analysis on the year's first Grand Slam.

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