Both Rybakina and Collins play an aggressive brand of tennis tailor-made for quick hardcourts. If they find their footing in Melbourne, they could turn the script on Swiatek's plans for a maiden Australian Open title.
Coco Gauff and Paula Badosa, meanwhile, also find themselves on a collision course in the first quarter. Both women have enjoyed strong starts to the season. The American, fresh off a title win in Auckland, would be particularly confident coming into the Grand Slam.
That said, the seeded opponents in their path to the fourth round — the dynamic Zheng Qinwen for Gauff and a mercurial Jelena Ostapenko for Badosa — are more than capable of shaking things up.
Gauff may also find herself up against Emma Raducanu in a possible high-profile second-round encounter at this year's Australian Open. It remains to be seen if the Brit, who had an injury scare in Auckland earlier last week, can return to full fitness to pose a challenge.
While Ons Jabeur has become better known for her two finals appearances at Wimbledon and the US Open, the season's first Slam will always be a special place for the Tunisian.
It was here at the 2020 Australian Open that Jabeur made her big breakthrough, reaching the quarterfinals before losing to eventual champ Sofia Kenin. The World No. 2 enjoys playing in Melbourne and faces the prospect of running into a tricky couple of opponents — Marketa Vondrousova and Kaia Kanepi — but may just have enough in the tank to make it to the second week.
The path is simpler for her projected fourth-round opponent, Beatriz Haddad Maia, who only has a possible third-round encounter with Liudmila Samsonova to worry about.
Belina Bencic and Aryna Sabalenka find themselves headed for a fourth-round showdown. The flat-hitting duo, who, in the eyes of many, have underachieved at the Grand Slam stage, come into the 2023 Australian Open off the back of confidence-boosting performances.
Sabalenka looked particularly menacing during her title run in Adelaide. Seemingly in control of her serving demons, for now, she could well be the one to beat in the bottom half of the draw.
Caroline Garcia and Daria Kasatikina lead the most open quarter at this year's Australian Open — the only one with no former Grand Slam winners.
Kasatkina finds herself in a virtual face-off against countrywoman Veronika Kudermetova for a spot in the quarterfinals. Both women have struck form in the warm-up tournaments in Adelaide and could dominate the section.
The section does also provide an opportunity for Karolina Pliskova — one of only two players in the quarter to have contested a Major final — to rediscover lost form.
Garcia, meanwhile, will need to be wary of Irina Camelia Begu — who sprung up a few surprises in the season-opening Adelaide International. The World No. 4, however, is still a favorite to come through.
Anett Kontaveit, the projected fourth-round opponent for Garcia, has been out-of-sorts for the last few months and could use the early matches to test the waters. The presence of a power hitter in the form of Ekaterina Alexandrova in the section, however, complicated things for the Estonian.
Emma Raducanu returned home after watching the FIFA World Cup final with a lot of inspiration to take into her own career. By her own admission, seeing soccer superstars Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe perform at their best under extreme pressure at such a big stage left Raducanu highly impressed.
After the last phase of her own season on the WTA Tour was cut short by injury, the Briton tennis star ended the year by working on her fitness and also catching the World Cup final between Argentina and France in Qatar. The final turned out to be one of the most enthralling matches in recent memory, ending with the legendary Lionel Messi fulfilling his lifelong dream of winning the World Cup, despite Kylian Mbappe's goal-scoring heroics.
Raducanu was really excited to see the soccer duo go head-to-head, applauding them for their brilliance in the final.
The 20-year-old's biggest takeaway from watching the final up close, however, was not the thrill, but learning from the Paris Saint-Germain duo on soaking in all the pressure on the biggest stage and coming up trumps. As she continues to be in the spotlight, Raducanu will carry along the learnings from her World Cup experience.
"It was just so good to see how they kind of handled the stage and the moment," continued Raducanu. "I think you can learn from how they dealt with it, how they just kept going, how they were taking penalties under pressure. It was pretty amazing to watch."
Raducanu was among the many famous names worldwide who attended the big match last month, including fellow tennis superstar Novak Djokovic. The Briton player also shared her experience of meeting Djokovic and was grateful to have been able to pick his brain regarding tennis.
After a lot of uncertainty surrounding her 2023 Australian Open participation after she suffered an ankle injury at the ASB Classic in Auckland, Emma Raducanu is optimistic about her fitness as she prepares to take to the court for her first-round match against Tamara Korpatsch on Monday.
Starting fresh with the Australian Open, Raducanu aims to have a consistent and healthy 2023 season, above all. At the same time, she also has a deep desire to win at least one title this season.
If she gets through the challenge against Korpatsch on Monday, the World No. 77 could face World No. 7 and fellow rising tennis superstar Coco Gauff in the second round. Raducanu won her Round-of-32 match at the ASB Classic before retiring midway through her second-round match, during which she won the first set 6-0.
Reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina has been relegated to Court 13 for her Australian Open opener against Elisabetta Cocciaretto, a move noted journalist Ben Rothenberg bemoaned stating that the Kazakh deserved one of the main courts.
Rybakina is only seeded 22nd at Melbourne Park as she earned no ranking points for her exploits at Wimbledon last summer. Had those points counted, she would have been one of the top eight seeds at the year's first Grand Slam. That might have seen her commencing her Australian Open campaign on one of the showcourts.
While Rothenberg acknowledged a 'saturation' of Women's Grand Slam champions, he alluded that Rybakina didn't deserve one of the outer courts less than a year after winning her first Slam. He tweeted:
"Reigning Wimbledon champ Elena Rybakina got relegated all the way out to the hinterland of Court 13 for her first AusOpen match. I understand there is a saturation of recent women's Slam champs, to an extent, but has a reigning Wimbledon champ ever so quickly disregarded?"
The 23-year-old has made a less than stellar start to her 2023 campaign, losing in the second round at Adelaide International 1 and stumbling in the first at Adelaide International 2.
Rybakina did make the doubles final at the latter tournament with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova but lost to Luisa Stefani and Taylor Townsend in straight sets.
Elena Rybakina created history at Wimbledon last year. She defeated Ons Jabeur to become the first Kazakh player - male or female - to become a Grand Slam singles champion.
However, with the event carrying no ranking points (due to the ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes because of Russia's Ukraine invasion), she remained just outside the top 20.
Subsequent results for Rybakina have been underwhelming, to say the least. She lost two of her next three matches before making the last eight at Cincinnati (lost to Madison Keys).
After crashing out in the first round of the US Open, the lanky Kazakh lost to Katarina Siniakova in the Portoroz final. Following an opening-round exit in Tokyo, she made the Ostrava semis before winning two of her next four matches to close out the year.
Rybakina has a 1-2 win-loss record in singles heading into the Australian Open, where she has never been beyond the first week in three previous attempts.
2022 Australian Open runner-up Danielle Collins will square off against Russia’s Anna Kalinskaya in the first round of the Australian Open on Monday, January 16.
Collins’ previous season was filled with some highs and a few lows. The American tennis star, who reached a career-high of World No. 7, started her 2022 season by producing her best result at a Slam by making the final of the Major in Melbourne in 2022. En route to the ultimate clash against eventual champion Ashleigh Barty, she defeated the likes of current World No. 1 Iga Swiatek.
Collins spent an extended amount of time on the sidelines, owing to a recurring neck injury. However, she scored many top-10 wins when she played and also famously halted two-time US Open champion Naomi Osaka in the first round of the US Open.
In 2023, the 29-year-old is yet to find her rhythm, having faced defeat to Elena Rybakina in the first round of the Adelaide International 1 and a three-set loss by close margins to Veronika Kudermetova in the quarter-finals of the Adelaide International 2.
World No. 64 Anna Kalinskaya, meanwhile, went down against Belinda Bencic in the second round of the Adelaide International 2 and couldn’t make it past the qualifiers of the Adelaide International 1.
In 2022, Kalinskaya reached a career-high world ranking of No. 51, owing to two quarter-final finishes and a semi-final appearance. The 24-year-old, however, withdrew from many tournaments mid-match due to various injuries.
Danielle Collins will be the favorite in this meeting. The American player is known for her powerful and ultra-aggressive style of tennis. She relies on her big risk and big reward strategy to dish out impressive winners off of both wings.
Anna Kalinskaya, who depends heavily on her forehand, will have to keep up with the pace of Collins’ high-intensity shots if she is to stand a chance against the 2022 runner-up.
It is worth noting, however, that the 29-year-old has had a bad record in three-setters, with a 100 percent defeat rate in the last seven tournaments.
The Russian player may thus stand a chance against the American if she is able to force a decider. However, with a lot to lose in this tournament, Collins is expected to keep her errors low and move on to the second round.
However, Andreescu fought back hard and managed to win the second via a tiebreak. She dominated the decider and won it 6-1 to book her place in the round of 16.
Here, the 2019 US Open was no match for fourth seed Veronika Kudermetova as the Russian thrashed her 6-4, 6-0.
Bouzkova produced some impressive performances last season that saw her enter the Top 25 of the WTA rankings. The Czech started her 2023 season at the United Cup. She won her first singles match 6-2, 7-5 against Jule Niemeier before losing 6-4, 6-3 to Madison Keys.
Bouzkova then entered the Hobart International as the top seed and reached the second round following a 7-6 (2), 6-3 win over Jaqueline Cristian. Here, she lost 7-5, 6-4 to eventual semi-finalist Anna Blinkova.
Bouzkova is the higher-ranked player but Andreescu has had some good moments on the WTA Tour over the past few months. So the match promises to be an exciting contest.
Andreescu's game is modeled on variety as she has a wide range of shots at her disposal. The Canadian is a strong hitter and will no doubt look to create pressure on her opponent from the very beginning. She can always mix her powerful groundstrokes with slices and well-disguised drop shots.
Bouzkova has an all-court style of play and while her shots are strong, she can also force her opponents to make unforced errors. The Czech's on-court movement and composure will also come in very handy.
The match promises to be a closely contested one. While Bouzkova has looked in good touch over the past few months, Andreescu might just about be able to edge out the win and reach the second round.
The 2023 Australian Open is set to commence on January 16 with a wide range of exciting fixtures in store for the first round. Last-time semifinalists Iga Swiatek and Madison Keys are some of the biggest names in action on the women's side, alongside former champions Sofia Kenin and Victoria Azarenka, on Day 1.
Defending champion Ashleigh Barty retired from professional tennis in mid-2022, meaning that this time around, the Grand Slam title will not be retained. In her place, many favorites have emerged, including the likes of Swiatek, Coco Gauff, Jessica Pegula, Ons Jabeur, and more.
Without further ado, here are the predictions for some key women's singles matches on Day 1 of the 2023 Australian Open:
Although both Azarenka and Kenin have been out of the spotlight recently, fans will turn their attention to the Margaret Court Arena at Melbourne Park when the two former champions of the Australian Open battle it out in an epic clash on Monday.
Azarenka's inability to win matches off late is a serious issue to tackle. Meanwhile, Kenin has surprisingly made a positive impact on her return from injury by making it to the semifinals of the Hobart International. Considering the current scenario, the 24-year-old looks much of a favorite to win the tie.
Coco Gauff has emerged as one of the favorites to win the Australian Open this time around considering the excellent form the teenager is in. Her title victory at the ASB Classic should have improved the confidence levels of the World No. 7.
Siniakova last played at the Adelaide International 2, where she lost against Caroline Garcia in the second round. The Czech player is a tough opponent but in light of recent performances, Gauff should be able to outclass Siniakova comfortably.
Andreescu's disappointing exit in the second round of the Adelaide International 2 might have dampened the confidence of the Canadian ahead of the 2023 season. However, she will be hoping to make the most of her return to the Australian Open after a one-year break.
Meanwhile, Bouzkova had an outing to forget at the Hobart International, losing out in the second round despite being the No. 1 seed. While recent performances have looked sub-standard for both, whoever adapts to the quick surface more efficiently might prove to be the difference eventually.
US fan favorite Pegula will be brimming with confidence after her team's title triumph at the United Cup. The World No. 3 played a huge role in Team USA's victory, firing on all cylinders and looking pretty much unbeatable.
Her opponent, Cristian, last played at the Hobart International where she suffered a first-round exit. It should be an easy fixture for Pegula on Monday when she faces the Romanian to kick start her campaign at the 2023 Australian Open.
Defending Australian Open runner-up Danielle Collins enters the tournament on the back of a disappointing outing at the Adelaide International 1 & 2. However, the thirteenth seed is capable of pulling out a surprise anytime, like she did last year at the Major Down Under.
Anna Kalinskaya's recent performances at the Adelaide International were more of the same when compared to Collins. Both have looked futile off late. However, the experience of the American makes her favorite heading into the match.
Iga Swiatek will hope to bring out a better result compared to last year's Australian Open, where she made a disappointing exit in the semifinals, falling to Danielle Collins. The 2023 campaign will start for the Pole with a match against Jule Niemeier.
The German, on the other hand, has started the new season on a less-than-positive note, losing both of her singles matches at the United Cup. Niemeier's chances of beating the World No. 1 are unlikely, even if she can manage to put up a tough fight.
Madison Keys made a remarkable run to the semifinals of last year's Australian Open. The American will be keen to step that up this time around and will have her eyes on the title.
Anna Blinkova, however, may prove to be a hard nut to crack in her opener. The Russian made it to the semifinals of the Hobart International, beating top seed Marie Bouzkova in straight sets on the road. Considering the immense experience that the American has under her belt, the favorite heading into the clash seems to be Keys.
Bianca Andreescu landed in Melbourne on Thursday, January 12, ahead of the 2023 Australian Open for the first time since 2021 as the player missed out on the tournament last year.
Auger-Aliassime leads 5-1 in the head-to-head against Norrie but will be given a tough fight if the two lock horns. The Canadian should eventually just about manage to get the win and reach his second successive quarterfinal at the Australian Open.
Stefanos Tsitsipas has made it to the semifinals in three of the last four editions of the Australian Open. The Greek will face Quentin Halys in the first round and should have little trouble defeating him.
Tsitsipas will likely have an easy path to the Round-of-16, where his opponent could be either Jannik Sinner or Lorenzo Musetti.
Djokovic should manage to reach the fourth round without much trouble, although Grigor Dimitrov in the third round could test him for a set or two. The Serb's likely opponent in the Round-of-16 will be Alex de Minaur, or possibly Pablo Carreno Busta.
De Minaur will have the crowd's support and will be in good spirits, especially after beating Rafael Nadal at the United Cup. However, Djokovic should be able to defeat the Aussie and book his place in the quarterfinals.
German tennis sensation Alexander Zverev faced the wrath of tennis fans as the German "predicted" that Rafael Nadal will retire at the end of this year's Roland Garros.
The 21-time Grand Slam singles winner is currently at the tail end of his career. At the age of 36, the Spaniard has faced quite a number of injury concerns, only for him to squash them and continue winning trophies. In his interviews, the southpaw has repeatedly expressed his desire to keep playing the sport in the coming years.
Speaking in an interview with Eurosport, Zverev "predicted" that the Mallorca-born will most probably win his 23rd Grand Slam trophy in Paris and retire at the end of the Grand Slam.
Zverev's unexpected comments about the veteran did not go down well with fans online, as they reacted quickly enough to express their displeasure at the 25-year-old's statement.
The other side of this quarter, meanwhile, has Andrey Rublev, who will face Dominic Thiem in the first round. The Russian may not have it easy but should manage to get the win nonetheless.
In the fourth round, Rublev's opponent is likely to be either ninth seed Holger Rune or 19th seed Nick Kyrgios.
Kyrgios produced some brilliant tennis in 2022 and is close to being the player many thought he would become. The 27-year-old seems a lot more consistent now and should be able to make it to the fourth round.
Kyrgios thrashed Rublev 6-3, 6-0 when the two locked horns in Miami last season. But the Russian ended 2022 on a good note, and should manage to get the win over Kyrgios this time - albeit by narrow margins.
Analysis: Casper Ruud missed out on last year's Australian Open due to injury, so he will be eager to have a good tournament in 2023. The Norwegian is seeded second, which is his highest-ever seeding at a Grand Slam so far.
While the likes of Jenson Brooksby and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina should not be written off, Ruud should be able to reach the fourth round without much trouble. There, his opponent will most likely be Matteo Berrettini, although Andy Murray and Roberto Bautista Agut should not be ruled out.
Ruud and Berrettini could well put on a thrilling encounter, with the Norwegian just about edging Berrettini to reach the quarterfinals.
The other side of the quarter has eighth seed Taylor Fritz as well as 12th seed Alexander Zverev, the latter of whom will be playing his first Grand Slam since his ankle injury at last year's French Open.
Though the likes of Miomir Kecmanovic, David Goffin and Diego Schwartzman are capable of causing a few upsets in this quarter, it will most likely come down to Fritz and Zverev for the quarterfinal spot.
The German is a fine player but might not be back to his best just yet, so Fritz will most likely get the win and reach his first Australian Open quarterfinal.
Some tweets hinted at how Zverev's career was in danger after he suffered a horrific injury in the semifinals of Roland Garros against the Spaniard.
Another fan reminded him that he is yet to win a Grand Slam singles title. They suggested he should focus on himself and how to improve his on-court performance rather than making unnecessary predictions regarding the Spanish legend's retirement.
Alexander Zverev makes his prediction for the 2023 season: "Rafael Nadal will announce his retirement at Roland Garros. I don't wish him this, but I think he will play a big tournament, maybe wins it and then says goodbye..."
They will both look forward to the 2023 Australian Open to add another Major to their records, with Djokovic aiming to tie the Spaniard's record and Nadal seeking to gain more advantage in the GOAT debate.
In light of this, former World No. 1 Mats Wilander said in an interview with Eurosport that he wants Rafael Nadal to win the Major at Melbourne Park. He believes the 36-year-old will not have many chances to do so in the next two to three years.
"I think Novak has a chance in every Grand Slam every year for the next two or three years. I think Novak can win one more, or he can win six or seven more, and I don't think Rafa can win six or seven more. I think he can win two, maybe three," Wilander said.
In the same interview, Mats Wilander discussed Rafael Nadal's chances at the 2023 Australian Open, saying that the Spaniard's form will be a huge setback for him, but if he gets through the first few rounds and gains confidence, nothing will stand between him and the trophy.
Rafael Nadal has once again been forced to comment on his retirement from professional tennis, this time by fellow player Alexander Zverev. Once again, the Spaniard has made it exceedingly clear that he is not calling it a day anytime soon.
Asked by Eurosport to make predictions for the 2023 season, Zverev recently received flack from fans for saying that the 22-time Grand Slam champion would probably leave the tour after the French Open.
Nadal enjoyed the first half of the 2022 season, winning four titles, including the first two Grand Slams. However, injuries played a part as his level went down in the next few months. He recorded his career's worst start to a season in 2023, losing the first two matches at the United Cup. Due to fitness and form issues, the legendary player has often been asked whether he is considering retirement in the near future, and he has always refuted such claims.