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Australian Open: Coco Gauff vs Venus Williams and the top 6 R1 matches

Coco Gauff will face Venus Williams in the first round of a Grand Slam again and that contest is one of the top Australian Open R1 matches in 2020.

The Australian Open draw has prompted plenty of debate over which of the top men’s and women’s singles stars have the best chances for glory.

Ahead of the tournament in Melbourne starting on Monday, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer were drawn in the same half of the men’s competition.

Rafael Nadal may have been one of the winners from the draw, while Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka did not get the outcome they were looking for.

If they reach the quarterfinals, Serena and Osaka will have to do battle against each other and whoever gets through that could have Ash Barty as a potential semifinal opponent.

Aus Open: Djokovic and his sensational record

Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep are happy to be in the other half to those stars, but the Czech world number two and the Romanian Wimbledon champion do not have easy starts.

While players and fans may worry about potential paths to the final and who the top players will face in the second week, the first task, of course, is to get there.

Some first-round matches are one-sided affairs that fail to capture the imagination, but there are always others which get the Grand Slam events off to a flying start.

Aus Open: Key storylines as Novak defends

Here, we have picked out 6 of the best contests to watch in the first round of the Australian Open.

Venus Williams vs Coco Gauff

Coco Gauff announced herself to the tennis world with a sensational victory over Venus Williams in the first round of Wimbledon last year, before going on to charge through to the fourth round.

A rematch between the rising teenage star and the seven-time major winner is the pick of the opening games, with Osaka a possible opponent for the victor if they get as far as round three.

Donna Vekic vs Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova lost her opening match at the Brisbane International, an event which was won by Pliskova.

The Russian has not played much tennis over the past year but was still handed a wildcard for the first major of the year and has previously won all four of the Grand Slams.

Sharapova was one of the unseeded players to avoid, but Donna Vekic was not so lucky and will have to work hard to avoid being one of the first seeds to fall.

Daniil Medvedev vs Frances Tiafoe

After his run to the final of the US Open, where he pushed Nadal all the way, Daniil Medvedev has been well backed to enjoy a strong fortnight at the Australian Open.

He will have to be on guard against Tiafoe in his opener, though, as the American beat fifth seed Kevin Anderson as part of a run to the quarterfinals last year.

Simona Halep vs Jennifer Brady

Halep fell in the quarterfinals at the Adelaide International and has a tricky opening contest against American Jennifer Brady.

Brady beat world number one Barty in Brisbane last week, as well as topping Sharapova having stormed through the qualifying competition.

Karolina Pliskova vs Kristina Mladenovic

Pliskova is under increasing pressure to end her Grand Slam drought and is one of the top favorites to win the tournament.

Facing France’s Kristina Mladenovic first is not what she would have hoped for, though.

Mladenovic has won two of the four meetings between the players and just last year had two impressive wins over Barty and another over Osaka.

Novak Djokovic vs Jan-Lennard Struff

Djokovic is a formidable player on hard courts and the rightful favorite for a record eighth Australian Open title.

World number 37 Struff, who beat Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas on this surface in 2019, was one of the toughest unseeded players he could have drawn in the early rounds.

Next: Serena ends long wait for a WTA title

It would still be stunning if he were to lose, but at the very least Novak Djokovic should be given a competitive start to his Australian Open title defence.

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