January 15, 2008 / 4:48 PM / in 10 years

Davenport and Sharapova to light up Melbourne

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Comeback mum Lindsay Davenport will return to the grand slam centre stage on Wednesday when she plays Maria Sharapova in the highlight of the third day’s action at the Australian Open.

World number one Justine Henin, defending champion Serena Williams and men’s second seed Rafael Nadal will also be on court.

But it is the second-round match, set for the night session, between two former world number ones which is sure to capture the headlines.

American Davenport has won 19 of her 20 matches -- and three of her four events -- since returning to the tour last September after a year off in which she had her first child.

Fifth seed Sharapova, a former Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion, will represent her biggest test yet.

“It will be interesting,” Davenport, the 2000 Australian Open champion, said.

”It will be the first grand-slam winner I’ve played since being back.

“She’s a great player. She’s one of the few players I don’t have a winning record against probably in the draw. We play very similar styles. She’s outplayed me the last couple times we played.”

Top seed Henin, who missed last year’s event because she was going through a divorce, plays Russian Olga Poutchkova.

Seventh seed Williams plays Yuan Meng of China, while former world number one Amelie Mauresmo takes on Russian Yaroslava Shvedova.

Rafael Nadal, chasing his first grand slam title outside of the French Open, meets Frenchman Florent Serra, while sixth seed Andy Roddick is up against German Michael Berrer.

Editing by Pritha Sarkar

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