There’s a lot on the line in the men’s draw at the Australian Open which begins Monday in Melbourne.
Tournament favorite Novak Djokovic returns having won the title eight times prior including the last two years. Rafael Nadal also lurks but the Spaniard comes into with a lower back issue which, thus far, has kept him out of the ATP Cup.
The Spanish star who won the Australian Open back in 2009 is again going for a second Career Slam along with a 21st Slam title which would move him ahead of rival and idle Roger Federer.
Djokovic and Nadal, who clashed in the French Open title match, would only meet in the finals.
Djokovic’s draw sees him open against Jeremy Chardy. He could then face former Australian Open quarterfinalist Frances Tiafoe with Stan Wawrinka in the fourth round and Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals. Wawrinka could face Milos Raonic in the third. Zverev has a good draw with Gael Monfils in the fourth.
Nadal’s bottom quarter looks trouble-free with Dan Evans in the third round, Fabio Fognini or Alex De Minaur in the fourth. Rafa could be up against either Matteo Berrettini or Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarters. Berrettini is line-up to face Kevin Anderson in the first round with Karen Khachanov in the third. Tsitsipas, a former Melbourne semifinalist, could meet Hubert Hurkacz in his third round.
In the top half, to face potentially Djokovic in the semifinals, Dominic Thiem appears to have a great draw with Ugo Humbert in the third round, Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth and then either Diego Schwartzman or Canadians Denis Shapovalov/Felix Auger-Aliassime in the quarters. Shapovalov opens against Jannik Sinner in the best men’s match of the first round. In that section, Dimitrov faces Cilic and Carreno Busta collides with Kei Nishikori.
Nadal’s final four opponent could be Russian. Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev were both drawn in the same quarter and projected to meet in the final eight. And both have very, very good draws with Rublev project to face Roberto Bautista Agut in his fourth round while Medvedev could meet David Goffin.
Tournament begins on Monday.
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