AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2019
Andy Murray will play what could be the final match of his career when the Australian Open begins in Melbourne today.
Three-time Grand Slam champion Murray faces Spanish 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut not before 07:00 GMT.
The 31-year-old Scot announced on Friday he will retire this year because of a hip injury.
“I can still play, but not to a level I’m happy playing at,” he said.
Bautista Agut, who beat world number one Novak Djokovic on his way to winning the Qatar Open last week, says he still expects a tough match, despite knowing Murray is feeling pain when he plays and could quit if he loses.
“Everybody knows when Andy goes on court he gives 100%. He has fought all his career and today’s match will be the same,” he said.
Defending women’s champion Caroline Wozniacki, seeded third, opens the night session on Rod Laver Arena – Melbourne Park’s main show court – against Belgium’s Alison van Uytvanck at 08:00 GMT.
Swiss third seed Roger Federer begins his defence of the men’s title after that match, against Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin, who famously beat Djokovic here in 2017.
Second seeds Rafael Nadal and Angelique Kerber – both former champions – also play on Monday.
Murray is one of seven Britons opening their tournaments at Melbourne Park on Monday, with only women’s number one Johanna Konta playing on Tuesday.
Kyle Edmund, who has replaced Murray as the country’s highest-ranked man, meets former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych at about 05:00 GMT in the match preceding Murray’s potential farewell match on Melbourne Arena.
First-time qualifier Harriet Dart has the honour of opening up the tournament on Laver against five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova at 00:00 BST, while Katie Boulter and Heather Watson also have early starts.
Opening on the outside courts, Boulter plays Russian Ekaterina Makarova and Watson takes on Croatian 31st seed Petra Martic.
British number three Cameron Norrie meets American Taylor Fritz not before 06:00 GMT, with qualifier Dan Evans bidding for a potential second-round match against 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer about 04:00 GMT.
Dart, 22, won three matches in Melbourne last week to qualify for the main draw for the first time, landing her with a dream tie against her “idol” Sharapova.
The 31-year-old Russian, seeded 30th, won her maiden Slam at Wimbledon in 2004 when Dart was aged seven.
“She has been so successful in the game. There are many things why I look up towards her,” said the Londoner, who is ranked 131 in the world.
“I was pretty young when she first won Wimbledon, I have always looked up to her and it will be pretty cool to play her.”
Boulter, 22, says it is “incredible” to have gain direct entry to a Slam for the first time on the basis of her top 100 ranking, while 26-year-old Watson – who has won three WTA titles and is a former top 50 player – insists she still wants to achieve more in her career.
“The past couple of years have not been fantastic for me, I’ve scraped around and it is not good enough,” Watson, now ranked 108th, said.