Ready to go

Stars say they have re­cov­ered from ail­ments as Aus­tralian Open be­gins to­day

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The open­ing day of the Aus­tralian Open should pro­vide quick an­swers to in­jury ques­tions which de­vel­oped dur­ing the past few weeks with two of the big­gest stars in the women’s game.

Will six-time win­ner and de­fend­ing cham­pion Serena Wil­liams be af­fected by in­flam­ma­tion in her left knee that forced her out of the Hop­man Cup in Perth? And will Maria Shara­pova, who lost to Wil­liams in last year’s fi­nal, get through her first-round match with­out the re­cur­rence of left fore­arm sore­ness that made her with­draw from the Bris­bane In­ter­na­tional, where she was de­fend­ing cham­pion?

Both play­ers said they’ve re­cov­ered from their re­spec­tive ail­ments and are ready to go, Wil­liams as the se­cond match on the main Rod Laver Arena, Shara­pova to open the night pro­gram at Mar­garet Court Arena.

Adding to a block­buster first day are matches in­volv­ing five­time and de­fend­ing cham­pion No­vak Djokovic and 17-time Grand Slam win­ner and four­time Aus­tralian win­ner Roger Fed­erer.

Here are some things to watch on to­day:

DON’T TELL ME, PLEASE – Seeded play­ers can’t meet in the first round in a tour­na­ment, but Wil­liams got the next-tough­est as­sign­ment: the player with the high­est rank­ing and not seeded. She’s Camila Giorgi of Italy and No. 36 in the rank­ings. The two have met just twice be­fore – on clay – and Wil­liams won in straight sets both times. Asked about Giorgi, Wil­liams pro­fessed to not know who she was play­ing: “I don’t re­ally ever look at the draw, so I would ap­pre­ci­ate it if you didn’t men­tion it. Thank you.” That means she likely also doesn’t know she could face for­mer No. 1 and close friend Caro­line Woz­ni­acki in the fourth round and No. 5 Shara­pova in the quar­ter­fi­nals.

AP PHOTO

Rus­sia’s Maria Shara­pova plays a shot dur­ing a prac­tice ses­sion, ahead of the Aus­tralian Open ten­nis cham­pi­onships in Mel­bourne on Sun­day.

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