By Dave Worsley
Anyone with tickets for Thursday at the Australian Open will be mighty pleased with themselves. The line-up of players is impressive to say the least.
Temperatures are set to reach a sweltering 39degC on Thursday, but that shouldn't stop fans pouring into Rod Lavar Arena to watch some of the biggest names in tennis fight for places in the third round of the first major of 2018.
Former champ Maria Sharapova heads the day but it's against Anastasija Sevastova the Latvian opponent who stopped her in the US Open last year. Following on from Sharapova is one of the favourites for the women's draw, Garbine Muguruza, who really needs to find a killer punch to win her match against Su-Wei Hsieh and prove she has form.
Novak Djokovic will really be tested in his second-round match, which is the final contest on Rod Laver in the day session. The six-time winner in Melbourne plays the extremely talented, but similarly erratic 2016 quarter-finalist Gael Monfils.
In the night session the very likeable and very gifted Ash Barty holds local hopes in her hands and plays the feisty Italian Camila Giorgi. Barty is the last Australian women left in the tournament after Daria Gavrilova lost her second-round match on Wednesday.
Many spectators will be hoping this finishes quickly so they can watch Roger Federer on court again, this time facing German Jan-Lennard Struff, who should be relatively easy to defeat.
Slightly forgotten are fifth-seed Dominic Thiem, Angelique Kerber as well as world number one Simona Halep and her clash against Eugenie Bouchard, plus Stan Wawrinka. who are all sent to the secondary Margaret Court Arena.
Karolina Pliskova the sixth-seed is out on the Hisense Arena and takes on Brazil's Beatriz Haddad Maia, followed by 12th seed Juan Martin Del Potro against Russian Karen Khachanov, and then fourth-seed Alexander Zverev in his match against Peter Gojowczyk.
And for Kiwis there's two doubles matches as Marcus Daniell and Brit Dominic Inglot face the team of Adil Shamasdin (Canada) and Neal Skupski (Britain), while French Open champ Mike Venus combines with South African Raven Klaasen as the eighth-seeds to play American Scott Lipsky and Spaniard David Marrero.