by Karen 

Get ready for 2 weeks of sleepless nights, copious amounts of coffee and telling your boss that you had a really bad night due to anything that your brain can think to make up.  It is time for the Australian Open.  Watching a tournament where the time zones are 16 hours apart shows without a shadow of a doubt how dedicated tennis fans are to their sport.  

The top half of the women’s draw starts play on Monday (Sunday evening in the US part of the world).  While the day’s play is usually met with lots of anticipation, I am interested to see how the Australian Open’s new edict that court assignments will be based on player popularity will play out. 

Most people might not remember but prior to the start of the AO, the organisers announced that court assignments will be based on public perception, i.e, if you are popular you get on the large show courts, if you are not, then you end up all the way out in never never land.  I spoke to a tennis buddy of mine when this was announced and I am of the view that the women will suffer as a result of this.  Already, there are signs that this might be the case with Margaret Court sounding off about the state of women’s tennis.  Frankly, the AO had no reason to institute this edict, as most large tournaments have for years pushed the women off onto side courts and placed men, some of whom fans have never heard of on the main show courts.  This has been done especially if it is a local player with some potential.

Rod Laver Arena
Kvitova v. Khumkum (has Petra fully recovered from whatever ails her?)
Williams (S) v. Giorgi (is Serena ready to defend or will the Italian rise to the occasion?)
Krystina Pliskova v. Samantha Stosur (no drama here)
Margaret Court Arena
Gavrilova v. Hradrecka (is Lucie ready to use that big game again?)
Radwanska (Aga) v. McHale (a title win, does that say confidence for McHale?)
Hibino v. Sharapova (the youngster should give Pova a work out.  How is the forearm?)
Hisense Arena
Stephens v. Wang (confidence in spades from both women, should be good)
Putinseva v. Wozniacki (not as much drama as most folks expect)
Show Court 2
Tomljanovic v. Bondarenko (time for Alja to step up)
Suarez Navarro v. Golubic (the Spaniard & the Swiss & not FeDal)
Show Court 3
Bouchard v. Krunic (Is Genie rested enough?)
Kuznetsova v. Hantuchova (one with a title, the other in the wilderness)
Show Court 5
Ostapenko v. Hsieh (one with drama, the other one under the radar)
Show Court 6
Errani v. Gasparyan (the wily vs the big hitter)
Kulichkova v. Petkovic (who knows with this one)
Show Court 7
Rybarikova v. Wickmayer (no clue)
Bencic v. Riske (one retired, the other got to a final.  Who takes it?)
Show Court 8
Nara v. Dodin (time for one of these women to make waves)
Watson v. Babos (is Watson up for the task against the big hitter?)
Show Court 10
Radwanska (U) v. Konjuh (what should be a huge battle))
Court 13
Sakkari v. Wang (no clue as to who gets this one, going with Wang)
Paszek v. Vnci (Paszek plays well Down Under & she has confidence in spades right now)
Court 14
Pavlychenkova v. Davis (Pavs could win.  Pavs could lose)
Tatishvilli v. Falconi (both women MIA from warm up tournaments)
Court 15
Gibbs v. Koukalova (the qualifier & the Czech)
Duque-Marino v. Han (the veteran and the youngster)
Court 19
Mladenovic v. Cibulkova (how well is Cibulkova feeling after her epic Hobart match?)
Sasnovich v. Rodina (this could be really good)
Court 20
Kasatina v. Schmiedlova (is Anna-K healthy?)
Linette v. Puig (Pica Power lives) 
Court 22
Dominguez-Lino v. Friedsam (Friedsam should win this easily)
Niculescu v. Pereira (forehand slices and high loopy balls all day long) 

Match that makes you want to smash your tv

Niculescu v. Pereira
Pavlychenkova v. Davis

Match that makes you ask, what are you doing aka Upset Special
Kvitova v. Khumkhum 
Bouchard v. Krunic

Match of the Day 
Mladenovic v. Cibulkova 
Paszek v. Vinci

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