The seedings have been announced, the draws revealed and the matches set. It's time for tennis Down Under at the year's first Grand Slam, the 2013 Australian Open.
Day 1 promises to feature a handful of predictable results but also a fair share of surprises as the world's best players begin their journey to conquer the hard courts of Melbourne Park. Novak Djokovic, Lleyton Hewitt and Maria Sharapova are just three of the big names set to make their Aussie Open debut on a busy Day 1.
Here we get you set with everything you need to know to catch all the Day 1 action as it unfolds.
Matches to Watch For
Olga Puchkova vs. Maria Sharapova (2) - Sunday, Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. ET
It's been five years since Maria Sharapova won her first and only Australian Open title, and just a year since she was beaten in the women's final, narrowly missing out on her second Down Under championship. But on Day 1 in 2013, she'll begin her journey back to the final.
The No. 2-seeded Sharapova will play fellow Russian Olga Puchkova at Rod Laver Arena. Puchkova, who is the same age as Sharapova, 25, has little experience in Melbourne. She's played just four singles matches at the year's first Grand Slam, compared to Sharapova's 42.
Don't anticipate any early slip-up from Sharapova on Day 1.
Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Paul-Henri Mathieu
Two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic (who has won here three times since 2008) will begin his title defense on Day 1 in Melbourne, taking on French first-round challenger Paul-Henri Mathieu. Djokovic is expected to cruise past Mathieu on Day 1. After all, he hasn't been knocked out of the opening round of the Australian Open since 2006.
Look for the men's No. 1 to steamroll on Day 1, making short work of his 31-year-old opponent en route to the second round. A straight-set victory for Djokovic would surprise no one.
Lleyton Hewitt vs. Janko Tipsarevic (8) - Monday, Jan. 14 at 3 a.m. ET
Although the later match at Rod Laver Arena on Day 1, which will pit Aussie Lleyton Hewitt against No. 8-seeded Serbian Janko Tipsarevic, doesn't feature the level of star power that the previous opening-round showdowns do, it promises to be one of the day's most thrilling matches nonetheless.
The 2005 Australian Open runner-up, Hewitt will receive plenty of support from the crowd, while Tipsarevic is coming off a run to the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open last September.
This first-round contest really could go either way, but I give the edge to the older Hewitt considering his Day 1 opponent has never been passed the third round of the Australian Open. If Hewitt wins, it won't be shocking but would certainly qualify for an upset.
Click here to view the entire Day 1 schedule of play.
Day 1 TV Schedule
|First Round||6:30 p.m. - 7 a.m.||ESPN2|
*Coverage begins Sunday, continues into Monday
Click here to view the entire men's bracket.
Click here to view the entire women's bracket.
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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