Rankings points might not be on the line in mixed doubles, but playing for the opportunity to be crowned a Grand Slam champion more than makes up for it, which can lead to some serious contests right off the bat.

Just take a look at what’s happening in Melbourne this year. Barbora Strycova and Marcelo Melo—ranked No. 1 and No. 7 on their respective tours—are the top seeds and in the first round, face Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray. That duo knows a thing or two about the mixed discipline, coming together the past two years to win the title at the US Open.


Whichever team comes out on top in that match could face a sentimental favorite in the second round. Leander Paes, one of the greatest doubles players in history, is contesting the last Australian Open of his storied career, making it into the tournament by way of wild card. Teaming up with Jelena Ostapenko this time, Paes has won the mixed title three times in the past and pulled off many a magical shot in Melbourne over the years.

This year’s tournament also features the return of another former champion. Venus Williams, who won her first professional title in any discipline way back in 1998 with Justin Gimelstob, is partnering with Juan Sebastian Cabal in 2020. Though she’s played mixed events sporadically since then, Williams was a Silver Medalist at the 2016 Summer Olympics with Rajeev Ram.

Williams’ countrywoman, Amanda Anisimova, will be out to make her own major statement as she teams up with Australia’s own, Nick Kyrgios. The collab, which was hoped for/rumored for a bit, will be coming to fruition in Melbourne, and the duo will face a wild card team first up.

Kyrgios and Anisimova are in the bottom half of the draw, led by the number-two seeds Nicolas Mahut and Shuai Zhang. Also in that half are Latisha Chan and Ivan Dodig, the fourth seeds who’ve made claiming Slams together a habit the past couple of seasons.

With major winners and former Aussie champs in the field, it’s anyone’s ball game in Melbourne this year. Perhaps there’s even room for a Kyrgios-Anisimova-type combo to sneak through and capture the big prize.