Maria Sharapova

Sharapova leads parade of former Australian Open champions


MELBOURNE, Australia — Maria Sharapova will be the first of five former champions playing on Rod Laver Arena on day one of the Australian Open.


Sharapova, who won her only Australian title 11 years ago, was playing Harriet Dart in the opening match on Monday.


Rafael Nadal, who won his only Australian title in 2009, was set to play James Duckworth, followed by 2016 winner Angelique Kerber against Polona Hercog.


Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki was scheduled to play Alison Van Utyvanck to start the night session, followed by six-time Australian champion Roger Federer's match against Denis Istomin.


The night session on center court was set to begin with a ceremony honoring the man himself, Rod Laver, on the anniversary of his second Grand Slam of singles majors in 1969.


The temperature was 26 degrees Celsius (79 Fahrenheit) as players warmed up for the opening matches, and was expected to rise to 34C (93F) later in the day.






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