Australian Open Day Two: Murray ready for title challenge
All eyes are focused on Andy Murray on day two of the Australian Open as the British Braveheart starts the campaign that may eventually lead to a first career grand slam.
Scotland's sweetheart has been going from strength to strength and, after winning in Doha a fortnight ago, he now looks capable of winning the big one in Melbourne - but he is sure to face stiff competition from world number one Rafael Nadal, who also features on day two.
And while the matches with these two superstars are the highlight, there will be plenty of drama elsewhere to watch on day two, including the first appearances of the irrepressable Williams sisters, a potential classic involving home-favourite Lleyton Hewitt and the return of last year's beaten finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
This could be closer than expected, but only if Murray plays wearing a blindfold! Romanian, Pavel has an ATP ranking of 1141 and as he approaches his 35th birthday he is more than unlikely to get an early present from Murray.
Murray, a 5/2 shot for outright tournament success, is 1/50 to beat Pavel and, far more invitingly, 1/4 to win in straight sets.
Most people fully expect this match to be over quickly, and with Murray keen to flex his credentials, the 5/6 about less than 25.5 total match games could be great value.
We think Murray will win with ease, but we think Nadal will find it even easier against Belgian world number 75 Christophe Rochus.
Nadal is amazingly short at 1/66, while Rochus is remarkably short (for a tennis player) at 5'7'' but long in price at 14/1.
It will be Nadal all the way, making the 1/4 about a straight sets victory, the 5/6 about less than 26.5 total match games and 5/6 about Nadal winning with a -10.5 game handicap all look extremely viable.
Twice winner of the Australian Open, Serena is a 1/50 shot to beat little-known Chinese player Meng Yuan and a 7/2 chance to win the tounament outright.
Yuan has largely failed to make an impact in the women's game since turning pro in 2003 and she is unlikely to change that record in this tournament.
Since winning the Australian Open back in 2003 Venus has failed to get past the quarter-final stage but she looks in shape to change that this time around.
She should comfortably see off German, Angelique Kerber, but will her performance justify the 11/4 favourite tag she has been given for outright championship success?
It's true to say that Lleyton Hewitt isn't what he once was but can he raise his game in front of a partisan Rod Laver Arena and see off Fernando Gonzalez?
Both players are priced at 5/6 to win and it really would take a brave man to try and seperate them however, Hewitt in Melbourne is similar to Henman at Wimbledon and we all know how that played out!
Tsonga was a shock finalist last year after beating Murray, Gasquet and Nadal to set-up a contest, which he eventually lost in four sets, against Novak Djokovic.
This year he has lost the surprise factor but he has shown that he possess the talent to challenge for more grand slams in the future.
He is 1/4 to beat Argentina's Juan Monaco in the first round, which looks great value against somebody that has fallen dramatically down the rankings in the past year.