The opening day of Grand Slam action for 2023 features a host of star names looking to make an early statement at the Australian Open. Top 10 stars Rafael Nadal, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Daniil Medvedev are all in action, when a trio of home favourites are also hoping to make their mark on Monday in Melbourne.

ATPTour.com looks at some of the biggest clashes on the Day 1 schedule.

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[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Jack Draper (GBR)

Defending champion and top seed Nadal arrives at Melbourne Park in a relative slump by his own lofty standards. The Spaniard has lost six of his past seven matches and faces a difficult proposition first up in Melbourne in fast-rising Briton Jack Draper. Yet Nadal knows as well as anyone how to rouse his best level at a Grand Slam — the 36-year-old is chasing a record-extending 23rd major title this fortnight in Australia.

“[It is] probably one of the toughest first rounds possible, being seeded,” acknowledged Nadal when asked about the Draper clash. “[He is] young, powerful, growing very, very fast in the rankings, playing well… [It is] a big challenge for me at the beginning to start the tournament. Let’s see. I’m here to just give myself a chance.”

Draper reached his second ATP Tour semi-final last week at the Adelaide International 2 and the big-hitting lefty is considered one of the game’s brightest prospects. With little to lose in his maiden ATP Head2Head meeting against one of the greats of the sport, the 21-year-old is ready to relish the occasion when he steps out onto Rod Laver Arena.

“It’ll be amazing to play on court with him, he’s a great champion,” said Draper of Nadal. “[There are] a lot of emotions obviously when I think of playing him… Whatever happens, it’ll be a special occasion for me, still very young in my career, so it’s great to have these sort of experiences and exposure to playing someone like Rafa on a big court like that.”

[3] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) vs. Quentin Halys (FRA)

There is a little extra on the line for World No. 4 Tsitsipas as he bids for his maiden Grand Slam title in Melbourne. Should he lift the trophy, the 24-year-old will also rise to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time.

If that is to happen, though, Tsitsipas will have to start by defeating Quentin Halys for the first time in three attempts. Although they have never faced off in a tour-level match, Halys defeated the Greek in an ITF Futures match in 2014 and an ATP Challenger Tour match in 2018. The 26-year-old Frenchman Halys has other reasons to feel confident — he currently sits at a career-high No. 64 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and pushed Novak Djokovic to two tie-breaks in Adelaide two weeks ago, with the Serbian later saying Halys was playing ‘like a Top 10 opponent’.

Nonetheless, Tsitsipas will hope that the support of Melbourne’s considerable Greek community can spur him to another strong performance at an event where he reached the semi-finals in 2019, 2021 and 2022.

[6] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) vs. Vasek Pospisil (CAN)

A fifth tour-level meeting between Auger-Aliassime and his fellow Canadian Pospisil promises plenty of huge serving and forehand action on Kia Arena. The sixth-seeded Auger-Aliassime leads his countryman 3-1 in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series, but the 32-year-old Pospisil triumphed in straight sets in their most recent meeting, in 2020 in Vienna.

Auger-Aliassime reached the quarter-finals for the first time in Melbourne a year ago before falling to Daniil Medvedev in a five-set thriller. That run kick-started a stellar season for the 22-year-old in which he won his first four ATP Tour titles and qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time. Can he bring his best to the big stage again against Pospisil on Monday?

[7] Daniil Medvedev vs. Marcos Giron (USA)

Medvedev will hope his clash with World No. 56 Giron is just the start of another strong run at Melbourne Park. The 26-year-old reached the championship match in 2021 and 2022, and despite falling just short of the title with defeats to Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, respectively, Medvedev’s combination of big serving and outstanding defence is more than capable of powering another deep run.

The seventh seed won his only previous tour-level clash with Giron at the Western & Southern Open in 2020. The American is making his fourth consecutive Australian Open main draw appearance, but he is yet to reach the second round. He has posted some impressive results on Tour since last year’s visit to Melbourne, however, including reaching his first final in San Diego, and he arrives in Australia off the back of a quarter-final run in Auckland.

Also In Action…

A trio of home wild cards will seek to channel the support of the locals in their first-round matches on Monday. Jason Kubler was unbeaten for Team Australia at the recent United Cup, where he downed Daniel Evans and Albert Ramos-Vinolas, and the World No. 86 will look to build on that form against Sebastian Baez. John Millman takes on big-serving lefty Marc-Andrea Huesler, while Rinky Hijikata plays qualifier Yannick Hanfmann.

Fresh from guiding Team Poland on a run to the United Cup semi-finals alongside WTA World No. 1 Iga Swiatek, 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz starts his Australian Open campaign against Spaniard Pedro Martinez. The Pole has never been past the second round in Melbourne, while 11th seed Cameron Norrie’s best previous run was a third-round showing in 2021. The Briton also takes to court on Monday against #NextGenATP Frenchman Luca Van Assche.

One man who has plenty of experience of going deep into the Melbourne draw is 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka. He takes on Alex Molcan in his first Australian Open match since 2021 after missing last year due to injury. The 2018 semi-finalist Kyle Edmund also makes his Melbourne Park comeback. The Briton last competed at the hard-court Slam in 2020, and he faces a daunting opening test in 15th seed and 2022 quarter-finalist Jannik Sinner.

Other seeded players in action Monday include Frances Tiafoe, who takes on Daniel Altmaier, Lorenzo Musetti, who meets Lloyd Harris, and Sebastian Korda, who starts against Cristian Garin.

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