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Ajla Tomljanovic and five wildcards will be looking to fill the large void left in Australian women’s tennis with the retirement of defending champion Ash Barty, as they take on the following opponents next week:

Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) vs Nadia Podoroska (ARG)

Top-ranked Australian woman Ajla Tomljanovic will face 29-year-old Nadia Podoroska in the opening round, who enters the 2023 draw using a protected ranking after spending ten months away from the professional tour.

The pair have never met but Tomljanovic will enter the match as a strong favourite given the large ranking difference between them and should get her main draw campaign underway with a win.

The Aussie, who ended the professional career Serena Williams at the US Open with a 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-1 victory, has reached the quarterfinals of consecutive majors and will be looking to continue the streak at Melbourne Park.

[WC] Kim Birrell (AUS) vs [31] Kaia Kanepi (EST)

Kim Birrell will search for her first Australian Open main draw win in four years against 37-year-old Kaia Kanepi.

Despite her age, Kanepi will prove a tough test for Birrell, with the Estonian having reached the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park last year where she pushed Iga Swiatek in a battle lasting over three hours.

The pair have never met, but Birrell will need to draw on her experience from the 2019 event, where she upset 29th seed Donna Vekic en route to the third round.

[WC] Olivia Gadecki (AUS) vs [Q] Polina Kudermetova

Olivia Gadecki and her opponent Polina Kudermetova will both be making their Grand Slam main draw debuts when the pair face off early next week.

The 20-year-old Aussie missed the 2022 Australian Open due to her vaccination status but has been awarded a wildcard upon her return and will have defending champion Ash Barty mentoring her throughout the tournament.

Gadecki and Kudermetova each sit just inside the WTA top 200, but the qualifier holds the more recent match play under her belt after three victories at Melbourne Park this week.

In what will be a fascinating battle of youth, the Aussie will need to take her chances when they arise to help record a career-best win.

[WC] Storm Hunter (AUS) vs Xinyu Wang (CHI)

Nine years on from her Australian Open main draw debut, Storm Hunter returns to Melbourne Park, vowing for a maiden Grand Slam win.

The Aussie, who took a set off second seed Aryna Sabalenka last year on Rod Laver Arena, will face Xinyu Wang first up in 2023.

The pair have met once before, coming in Miami last year where Wang prevailed 6-2, 6-4, and Hunter must look to apply greater pressure on return to reverse the result this time around.

[WC] Jaimee Fourlis (AUS) vs Linda Fruhvirtova (CZE)

Jaimee Fourlis has drawn 17-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova in the opening round and will have her work cut out against a rising star on the women’s side.

After a strong 2022 season which saw the 23-year-old achieve her goal of reaching the WTA top 150, Fourlis earnt her first Australian Open main draw wild card in five years.

The Aussie, who has lost her past three matches, will need to play her best tennis in order to down the Czech and reach round two at Melbourne Park for the second time.

[WC] Talia Gibson (AUS) vs [Q] Clara Burel (FRA)

Tennis Australia prioritised future potential over current ranking when awarding a wildcard to 18-year-old Talia Gibson, who will also face a qualifier in her first main draw match at a Grand Slam.

The Aussie, who sits at world number 364, will need a career best performance to overcome 21-year-old Clara Burel – with the Frenchwoman having won her way into the main draw and also having reached the US Open third round last September.


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