Venus Williams has one of the toughest possible first challenges. (AP)

The Australian Open is just a few days away. The first Slam of the season promises a mix of up-and-comers and established stars, and you'll get to see from Day 1 which group takes control of the fortnight.

Here are three first-round women's matches you won't want to miss: 


Venus Williams vs. Belinda Bencic

Neither player can be happy about this draw, as this matchup feels more like a fourth-rounder. Williams made two Grand Slam finals last year and led the WTA in prize money. Bencic, on the other hand, is a former No. 7 who is on a 15-match winning streak. Her comeback has churned out four titles, and at the Hopman Cup she beat Naomi Osaka, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and CoCo Vandeweghe.  


18 years later I'm back in Sydney and can't wait to get 2018 stared!

A post shared by Venus Williams (@venuswilliams) on


Simona Halep vs. Destanee Aiava

Halep may be the world No. 1, but she hasn't won a match at the Australian Open since 2015. Aiava, the 17-year-old winner of the Australian Open Wildcard Playoff, might not be an easy out. A year ago, Aiava became the first player born in the 2000s to compete in a Grand Slam main draw. Halep, though, won both the singles and doubles titles in Shenzhen last week. 


Super @simonahalep ! ???????????????????????? #ShenzhenOpen #SimonaHalep

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Ashleigh Barty vs. Aryna Sabalenka

Barty and Sabalenka have to be two of the WTA's biggest rising stars. Barty, a 21-year-old Australian who'll face Angelique Kerber in the Sydney final on Saturday, brought her singles ranking from No. 271 to No. 17 over the course of 2017. But Sabalenka made the final of Tianjin last fall, giving Maria Sharapova a run for her money. She then finished the year with a 125K Series title in Mumbai. 


A post shared by ????ARINA???? (@sabalenka_aryna) on

Main-draw action from Melbourne begins on Monday. 


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