Australian Open draw: Novak Djokovic to open against qualifier; Swiatek play former champ Kenin

January 11, 2024
Novak Djokovic could face former World No. 1 Andy Murray in the third round at Australian Open as the singles main draw was revealed

Melbourne, Jan 11 (IANS) Ten-time champion Novak Djokovic could face former World No. 1 Andy Murray in the third round at Australian Open as the singles main draw was revealed on Thursday. Djokovic will open against a qualifier or lucky loser and if he wins, will face a home favourite: Marc Polmans or Alexei Popyrin. Murray begins his event against 30th seed Tomas Martin Etcheverry.

Djokovic is fresh off a season in which he won three majors to increase his total to 24, a standalone record. The 36-year-old Serb has won 28 consecutive matches at the season’s first major.

Carlos Alcaraz of Spain, the second seed, will begin his tournament against former World No. 7 Richard Gasquet. The Spaniard did not play in Melbourne last year and this will be his third appearance. The last time he appeared in 2022, an 18-year-old Alcaraz lost in the third round to Berrettini.

Third seed Daniil Medvedev could play a qualifier or lucky loser in his first two matches (Emil Ruusuvuori or a qualifier/lucky loser loom in the second round). The two-time Australian Open finalist could take on 27th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada in the third round. The Canadian will face a stern opening test against former World No. 3 Dominic Thiem.

Fourth seed Jannik Sinner, fresh off a memorable run to the championship match of the ATP Finals, plays Botic van de Zandschulp in the first round.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, the seventh seed, who has made three additional Australian Open semi-finals, highest-seeded player in Djokovic’s quarter and will take on former Top 10 star Matteo Berrettini of Italy his opening opponent.

The women singles action will start off with some incredible first-round matches, including a rematch of the 2020 Roland Garros final between World No.1 Iga Swiatek and former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin.

Former Australian Open champions Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber are also making their Grand Slam returns after their respective maternity leaves, and they both have challenging first-round matches lined up against notable names.

Kerber will play the 2022 finalist Danielle Collins in the opeing round with the winner set to face Swiatek or Kenin in the second.

The No.3 seed Elena Rybakina, last year’s Australian Open runner-up, will face former World No.1 Karolina Pliskova in the opening round while No.5 seed Jessica Pegula, who has made the Australian Open quarterfinals in each of the last three editions, will play a qualifier in the first round.

Moving into the bottom half of the draw, No.4 Coco Gauff is the highest seed in the third quarter, where she will face Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in the first round.

Gauff’s section is another exciting first-round match between No.16 seed Caroline Garcia and two-time Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka. The winner of that match could meet Gauff in the Round of 16.

Defending champion and no. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka rounds out proceedings at the very bottom of the draw. Sabalenka, who held the World No.1 ranking for eight weeks last year, will open against a qualifier.

No.6 Ons Jabeur is the highest seed at the other side of this quarter, and she will also face a qualifier in the opening round. Jabeur could face 2023 WTA Newcomer of the Year Mirra Andreeva in the second round, and No.9 seed Barbora Krejcikova is a potential Round of 16 opponent.

The main draw action of the season’s first major set to kick off from January 14 onwards at Melbourne Park.

–IANS

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