Seeded no.2, Rafa has managed to complete only 1 tournament on hard courts in 2018 and this year he has already withdrawn from Brisbane. The Spaniard reached the quarters last year in Melbourne before retiring against Marin Cilic in the quarters.
Currently ranked no. 238, James accessed the main draw thanks to a wildcard conquered in December (the results are below). His highest rank was no.82 back in 2015.
Rafa and James have never played each other so far. The world no.2 is the obvious favorite to reach the 2nd round.