Henin, Serena, Nadal, Roddick Headline Opening Day at Australian Open

Posted on January 12, 2008

Tennis fans will enjoy a star-studded line-up from the word go as main draw action at Australian Open 2008 gets underway on Monday. Defending champion and No.7 seed Serena Williams will be first up against Australian wildcard Jarmila Gajdosova as the curtain-raiser match on Rod Laver Arena.

The two have never met before and in todayís pre-tournament press conference, Williams admitted she didnít know much about her opponent.

ďI havenít looked yet, but I donít know. Iím sure Venus has played her before.Ē

In fact, Venus hasnít played Gajdosova before either, so Serena will need to rely on other sources for tips on how to play the Australian.

Next on court is world No.1 and former Australian Open champion Justine Henin (1), who takes on Aiko Nakamura of Japan. Fresh from her Medibank International victory in Sydney last night, the rejuvenated Henin will be looking forward to returning to Melbourne Park after her absence last year.
Britainís Andy Murray (9) has an enticing first round match-up against talented Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga rounding out the day session. The 20-year-old Brit won their only prior meeting on the ATP Tour in straight sets, which was in the quarterfinals of Metz in 2007.

The night session will see Australiaís Alicia Molik take on Estoniaís Kaia Kanepi, as she begins her 2008 Australian Open campaign. Molik will take confidence from the fact she defeated Kanepi in the second round at Melbourne Park last year.

Closing proceedings on Rod Laver Arena on Monday night will be world No.2 Rafael Nadal (2) whose first opponent is Serbian qualifier Viktor Troicki. Nadalís previous best performance at Melbourne Park was a quarterfinal appearance last year, but after a rigorous December training schedule, he considers himself in prime physical condition and will be looking to go all the way in 2008.

Headlining the action on Vodafone Arena are Jelena Jankovic (3), Andy Roddick (6), Maria Sharapova (5) and Richard Gasquet (8). Jankovic, who enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2007, which saw her finish the year ranked in the top ten for the first time, will be hoping to build on her success this year. The first opponent standing in her way is Austriaís Tamira Paszek.

Top seed Roger Federer will open play Tuesday, as will Lleyton Hewitt, Novak Djokovic, Venus Williams and Svetlana Kuznetsova. (Australian Open)