The Australian Open draw was revealed on Thursday evening in Melbourne ahead Monday’s tournament kick-off date and it saw Roger Federer land in the same half as Rafael Nadal.
World No. 1 and six-time champion Novak Djokovic shares a half of the draw with the player who defeated him in the final of the ATP Finals last November, Alexander Zverev, and floaters like Andy Murray, Nick Kyrgios, Stan Wawrinka were all handed tricky openers.
Here are the main talking points surrounding the men’s Australian Open draw.
EARLY TESTS FOR DJOKOVIC
The top seed is gunning for a record-extending seventh Australian Open crown this upcoming fortnight but has some potential early landmines in his path with 2008 finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – returning from an injury break and showed decent form in Brisbane – a second-round candidate for the Serb, and talented teen Denis Shapovalov a possible third round opponent.
Djokovic also has both Brisbane finalists in his quarter, with in-form 15th-seeded Daniil Medvedev possibly awaiting in the fourth round and eighth-seeded Kei Nishikori a potential quarter-final rival.
OPPORTUNITY FOR FEDERER
Two-time defending champion Federer has a relatively manageable draw, with two of the three players he defeated in Hopman Cup last week – Stefanos Tsitsipas and Cameron Norrie – landing his quarter. The likes of Karen Khachanov and Marin Cilic could face the Swiss in the last-eight and he opens against Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin.
TOUGH LUCK FOR THE FLOATERS
Unseeded floaters like Murray, Kyrgios and Wawrinka were always going to be a major question mark entering this draw and they all received tricky paths. Murray, who is still on his way back from hip surgery, opens against Doha champion Roberto Bautista Agut, who defeated Djokovic last week on his way to his title triumph in Qatar.
Home favourite Kyrgios, who is down to 51 in the world, drew fellow big-server Milos Raonic in round one, while Wawrinka takes on erratic Lativan Ernests Gulbis in his first match.
ZVEREV’S NEXT GEN TASK
If ever there was a time for Zverev to best his fellow youngsters at a major, this would be it. The 21-year-old German has been at the forefront of the Next Gen crew for the past couple of seasons and solidified his position as the leader of the group when he won the ATP Finals last November. But as much as he has proven himself on the ATP tour, Zverev only has one Grand Slam quarter-final to his name, which has led people to question his abilities in the best-of-five format. His draw in Melbourne grouped him with several players from his generation like Chung Hyeon – semi-finalist in Melbourne last year who defeated Zverev along the way – Borna Coric, and seventh-seeded Dominic Thiem, who is four years older but is still considered part of that up-and-coming group of stars.
FIRST ROUNDS TO WATCH
Bernard Tomic v Marin Cilic
Roberto Bautista Agut v Murray
Gael Monfils v Damir Dzumhur
Kyle Edmund v Tomas Berdych
Ernests Gulbis v Stan Wawrinka
Milos Raonic v Nick Kyrgios
Dominic Thiem v Benoit Paire
PROJECTED QUARTER-FINALS BY SEED
Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) v Kei Nishikori (JPN x8)
Alexander Zverev (GER x4) v Dominic Thiem (AUT x7)
Roger Federer (SUI x3) v Marin Cilic (CRO x6)
Kevin Anderson (RSA x5) v Rafael Nadal (ESP x2)
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