The Australian Open men’s draw really is a tale of two halves. On the top of the draw, sits Rafael Nadal in the customary No. 1 slot, but few foes loom on that page.
In fact, in the entire top half, besides Nadal, Marin Cilic is the only other Grand Slam champion. And he got some great projected seeds in a third round clash with Damir Dzumhur, 16 John Isner in the fourth before the Croation Cilic, who also has a very agreeable draw. Nadal will open against Victor Estrella Borgos followed by the Mayer-Jarry winner.
In the second quarter, we find former Grand Slam finalists Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Kevin Anderson. But the young guns are everywhere with Andrey Rublev, Nick Kyrgios, Jack Sock, Lucas Pouille, Kyle Edmund and Yoshihito Nishioka. And let’s not forget about one of the best first round matches between Denis Shapolvalov meeting Stefanos Tsitsipas. So the player that does come through will all but likely have to face one of these NextGen guys.
Moving to the third quarter, that is where we find the 14th-seeded Novak Djokovic along with fellow former champ Stan Wawrinka. Dominic Thiem, Alexader Zverev, Gael Monfils and Fernando Verdasco (who plays Roberto Bautista Agut) are also in there. The question is, how fit and healthy is Djokovic? The Serb opens against Donald Young but then could meet Gael Monfils in the second then Zverev in the fourth following by a Wawrinka in quarters. Yikes!
Federer once again anchors the last quarter. It’s not horrible but not easy either. He opens against Slovenian-Brit Aljaz Bedene, then the lanky German Jan-Lennard Struff before running into Richard Gasquet in the third round, and then Sam Querrey or Mikos Raonic in the quarters. Thomas Berdych, who meets Aussie teen sensation Alex De Minaur, is also in the mix.
Overall, the bottom half – with Federer, Djokovic, Wawrinka, Delpo and Zverev – is much stronger than the top. And of course there are all the health concerns, like with Nadal’s knees and Djokovic’s elbow.
Nadal v Cilic
Dimitrov v Sock
Thiem v Zverev
Goffin v Federer
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