Two old foes will go at it in the first match of Thursday’s night session when Roger Federer and Nikolay Davydenko duke it out for a place in the third round.
The two 31-year-olds know each other well, on court at least. After turning pro just a year apart, they’ve since met on 19 occasions, with Federer besting the Russian scrambler in all but two of their matches.
Former world No.3 Davydenko hasn’t enjoyed a career as consistent as that of his opponent. He didn’t win a single title in 2012 – the first time in nine years that he has failed to capture some silverware.
The Swiss Maestro, in comparison, won six titles from 10 finals in 2012, as he not only regained the top spot but also claimed his 17th major when he won his seventh Wimbledon crown.
A quiet start to 2013 doesn’t seem to have done Federer any harm. His last competitive matches came in mid-December as part of his Gillette Federer Tour of South America.
A clinical first-round win over Frenchman Benoit Paire ensured his Melbourne legacy stays intact – Federer has never lost before the third round at the Australian Open.
Davydenko, however, will be looking to cut Federer’s time Down Under short. But this seems an unlikely scenario.
With the temperature tipped to soar to 39° C, it will be a battle of the fittest, but Federer insists he’s ready.
“I'm not worried about the heat in any way,” he says.
“I have practiced and played so many matches over the years in a lot of heat. I almost favour myself over my opponent in the heat.”
And while Davydenko may now be unseeded and not considered a threat for the title, Federer, ever the professional, is not taking him lightly.
“Two years ago I think he really struggled with his serve, but seems like he's coming back around. I had a very close match with him in Rotterdam last year.
“I was very close of losing. Next thing you know, nobody talks about it. I went on to win the tournament and nobody talks about Nikolay.
“So it's nice to see him playing well again. And if I do play well against him, you're aware that he is a top player who can do a lot of damage. I better be well prepared and play well.”