Men’s draw revealed
Melbourne, Jan 10 (IANS): Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, favourite to win the Australian Open, will play his first match of the tournament against a qualifier, according to the draw on Thursday.
Switzerland’s Roger Federer will take on Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin, ranked 99, in what will be their seventh encounter. The Swiss has beaten Istomin on all six previous occasions, reports Efe news.
After withdrawing from his Australian Open quarter-final match with Marin Cilic last year, Rafael Nadal will kick off his season this year in Melbourne against local James Duckworth. This will be the first time the players will face each other.
The draw laid out an easy path for Nadal in the first two rounds. A victory in the first round would set him against the winner of the match between another local, Matthew Ebden and Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.
In the quarter-finals, he could meet Australia’s Alex De Minaur (26), Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman (18) and the United Kingdom’s Kyle Edmund (13).
Later, he could face Federer, against whom he lost the tournament’s final in 2017, or Croatia’s Marin Cilic (6), who will play Australia’s Bernard Tomic in the first round.
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic will begin his bid for a seventh title against a qualifier and could go on to meet Canada’s Denis Shapovalov (25) in the third round, Russia’s Daniil Medvedev (15) in the round of 16 and Japan’s Kei Nishikori (9) in the quarter-finals.
Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman will play his first match of the Open against a qualifier and could have a third-round clash against UK’s Edmund (13).
Fifth-ranked Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina will miss the Australian Open due to a kneecap injury he sustained at the Shanghai Masters in October.
Halep to face Kanepi in first round
Melbourne, Jan. 10 (IANS) : World No. 1 Romania’s Simona Halep will face Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi in the first round of the Australian Open, according to the draw on Thursday.
Halep lost last year’s final to Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, who will play against Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck in her opening match, reports Efe news.
If Wozniacki makes it past the first two rounds, she could meet Russia’s Maria Sharapova (30) in the third.
Seven time Australian Open champion Serena Williams of the United States will return to the tournament after missing it last year.
The 16th ranked player will play Germany’s Tatjana Maria in the first round and could meet Spain’s Carla Suarez (23) in her third match.
In the later rounds, Simona Halep could face Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, Belgium’s Elise Mertens and Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina or Suarez and Williams.
Germany’s Angelique Kerber, second favourite, will face Slovenia’s Polona Hercog in her opening match.
Local Australian Open hope Ashleigh Barty will face Thailand’s Luksika Kumkhum in her opening match and could go on to meet Wozniacki in the round-of-16.
Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig, who made it to the second round of last year’s edition, will play her first match against Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.