As we've come to expect in recent years, the women's side of the Australian Open is anyone's for the taking. Current stars look to consolidate their success, up-and-comers continue to push for a breakthrough and players hanging around near the top look eagerly for their chance to take over.
In Melbourne this fortnight, all of these dynamics will be at play starting with the very first round. Here are three can't-miss Round 1 women's matches that could set the tone for the tournament.
Last August, on the first day of the US Open, the women's side of the tournament was sent into disarray just over an hour into the event. Halep—world No. 1, Australian Open finalist and Roland Garros champion—was knocked out in the first round 6-2, 6-4 by No. 44 Kanepi, who belted 26 winners in the two sets.
Now, in what could be considered an unfortunate draw for both of them, Halep and Kanepi are first-round opponents in back-to-back Slams. However, for the top seed, this is an opportunity to prove the US Open was a fluke. For Kanepi, it's a chance to prove it wasn't.