Sports, Tennis

Excited day three

Published : 16 Jan 2024 09:36 PM | Updated : 16 Jan 2024 09:36 PM

Carlos Alcaraz and women's world number one Iga Swiatek are the headline acts on day three of the Australian Open on Tuesday as Emma Raducanu makes her Grand Slam comeback from injury.

Wimbledon champion Alcaraz is vying with Novak Djokovic for the coveted number one spot during the tournament at Melbourne Park.

The Spaniard, 20, edged the Serbian great in a thrilling final at the All England Club last year to win his second major.

Since that meeting at Wimbledon world number one Djokovic, a 10-time winner in Melbourne, has come out on top twice against his young opponent, including at the ATP Finals in November.

But Alcaraz, who missed last year's Australian Open with a hamstring injury, is undaunted as he prepares for his first match against veteran Frenchman Richard Gasquet.

He said the challenge of toppling Djokovic -- king of Rod Laver Arena -- gave him “extra motivation”.

 “I always want to play against the best players in the world to see what my level is," he said. "Obviously it's a good test, playing against him in the places or in the tournament that he's almost unbeaten.

“Yeah, I am looking to reach the final and hopefully playing a final against him. It would be great, obviously."

Women's top seed Swiatek is in imperious form, with 16 straight wins under her belt, including five at the recent United Cup.

The Polish player, 22, opens her account with a rematch of the 2020 Roland Garros final against former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, which Swiatek won. Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin to make the second round Tuesday, where

she faces another tough assignment against a player who beat her in the 2022


It was not easy for the four-time Grand Slam winner against Kenin but she

eventually triumphed 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 after a 1 hour 51 minute slog in draining

conditions on Rod Laver Arena. 

Last year's beaten finalist Elena Rybakina, fresh from winning the Brisbane International, takes on former world number one Karolina Pliskova.

Fifth seed Jessica Pegula is also in action and two-time champion Victoria Azarenka faces Italy's Camila Giorgi.

Former US Open champion Raducanu, now ranked a lowly 296, is an unknown quantity after an eight-month layoff.

The British player stunned the tennis world when she triumphed at Flushing Meadows in 2021 as a qualifier but only on one other occasion has she reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam.

 However, she is confident she can recover her best form after a frustrating period.

“I think my level, to be honest, is just too good not to come through if I put consistent work together.”

On the men's side, sixth seed Alexander Zverev makes his bow while Grigor Dimitrov launches his campaign fresh from a title success in Brisbane.