Schedule of play:
Samantha Stosur vs. Klara Zakopalova
A rematch of Hobart's semi-final, Stosur will have to meet her vanquisher in the first round. Will the Czech be able to replicate the win against Australia's highest ranked player? It's no secret that Stosur cannot handle the pressure of playing at home, and compounded with the fact that she just lost to Klara 3 days ago is going to plague her mind. Still, the organizers did her a huge favour by scheduling the match on the first day, meaing Zakopalova gets minimal practice and rest before this match. This match might be close, but I believe Samantha will tough this one out.
Pick: Stosur in 3 sets
Ekaterina Makarova vs. Venus Williams
Unseeded Venus Williams is in unfamiliar territory as she's the unseeded player here. Makarova has just made a statement in Sydney, having brushed aside Jankovic in straight sets. Can she do the same to the multiple slam champion? I commend Venus for her love of the game and refusal to give up. But her speed and power isn't as before, and the only thing that she's got for her is her hunger to win. If she can hang on long enough with the Russian, Makarova might succumb under the pressure. Still, there is a possibility of the younger Ekaterina just running away with the match.
Pick: Williams in 3 tight sets
Julia Goerges vs. Sara Errani
Struggling Goerges is going to take another tumble in the rankings if she loses here to Errani, which is extremely possible. The steady Italian has the perfect game to counter the erratic flashy game of Julia. The German is showing signs of a comeback though, as she played a close match with Wozniacki and won some qualifying matches there. If Julia can play to her 2011 standard, Errani might be in trouble. Although chances of that happening is extremely small.
Pick: Errani in 2 sets
Laura Robson vs. Kirsten Flipkens
Robson has been hampered by a wrist injury last week, but I'm sure she's only taking precautionary measures. She now has a winnable match against Flipkens, who can be prone to being overpowered. Laura just needs to know when to pounce against the craft Belgian. The Brit can be a little bit impatient with her aggressiveness, resulting in unnecessary errors. If she can rein it in a little, a win here is very much possible.
Pick: Robson in 3 sets
Casey Dellacqua vs. Vera Zvonareva
Look who's making a comeback! Zvonareva makes her long awaited return to the tour, sporting a fuller figure. The former world number 2 has nothing to lose against Dellacqua, and will go out there swinging for winners. Casey has been slowly playing herself to form in the challenger events as well. She should be able to give Vera a close fight given Vera's recent return to tour. A win here for Zvonareva is possible, but I wouldn't be surprised or worried if she loses here. Not everyone is like Kim Clijsters, who can go into match mode immediately.
Pick: Dellacqua in 3 sets