A heavyweight trio will take centre stage on day one of the Australian Open, with Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams and Simona Halep all out to make an early impression.
World No.1 Ash Barty will cool her heels on the opening day after setting out her stall with a straight-sets Yarra Valley Classic final triumph over Garbine Muguruza on Sunday.
But tournament favourite Osaka, a record-chasing Williams and world No.2 Halep will all look to put down early markers.
Williams has the lingering pressure of securing a record-equalling 24th grand slam victory, but the 39-year-old emphasised it was a burden she was happy to live with.
“It’s definitely on my shoulders and on my mind and it’s good to be on my mind,” Williams said.
“It’s a different burden, I should say, on my shoulders because I’m used to it now and it’s more relaxing.”
The seven-time Open champion starts her campaign against Laura Siegemund – the match after world No.3 Osaka’s Rod Laver Arena opener against Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Osaka, the 2019 champion and tournament favourite, said she was no longer “chasing” the No.1 ranking – and was instead striving for greater consistency.
The Japanese player hoped to emulate world No.2 Halep, who has been ranked in the top 10 for 347 consecutive weeks.
“That’s incredible and I want to have that sort of consistency,” Osaka said.
“My career, it’s been kind of up and down a lot, and people don’t really know when I’m going to do well in a tournament or when I’m not.
“My ultimate goal is just to at least reach the quarter-finals or better at every tournament I play, and hopefully win most of them.”
Halep will kick off her campaign against Australia’s Lizette Cabrera on Monday night and said she would not dwell on her 2018 runner-up appearance.
“I have the results in my head every time I come here and I always think that if I did it once (reach the final) I have the possibility to do it again,” she said.
“But I don’t want to think that much because I put pressure on myself and I expect maybe too much sometimes.
“So I will take it as a normal tournament, an important one of course, but I’m centred.”
Cabrera, 23, is one of three Australian women to feature on the opening day.
Ajla Tomljanovic will take on Japan’s Misaki Doi while Kimberly Birrell faces Canada’s Rebecca Marino.