Australian Open Men’s Draw: Djokovic v Hamstring, Nadal v Draper, Murray v Berrettini
The Australian Open men’s draw just dropped and what a bracket full on interesting pairings.
In the opening round alone we’ll see Rafael Nadal open his title defense against the young powerful Brit Jack Draper. And speaking of Brits, Andy Murray is back and will battle Matteo Berrettini. Look for that one to go well past four hours (if they are healthy enough). Former semifinalist Kyle Edmund also returns but runs into Jannik Sinner.
Moving away from GBR-ITA, Andrey Rublev drew former US Open winner Dominic Thiem. The rising Jiri Lehecka takes on Borna Coric, Fabio Fognini faces Thanasi Kokkinakis and new studs Ben Shelton meets Zhizhen Zhang.
Djokovic is the clear favorite and the draw helped him out. If his hamstring is ok, he’s going to win here. He’s in the third quarter with Grigor Dimitrov, Alex De Minaur, Pablo Carreno Busta, Rublev, Holger Rune and Nick Kyrgios. Kyrgios and maybe Rune for 45 minutes can give him a go, otherwise put the Serb in the semifinals without a sweat. I do think Kyrgios could be a problem if he gets to that quarterfinal showdown with Novak.
Nadal is in the top quarter and based on recent form, ripe for the upset. Could the 21-year-old Draper be that guy? If not him, Nadal figures to face in the fourth round the only man to beat him in a Slam last year – Frances Tiafoe. In the quarters it looks like the Daniil Medvedev-Sebastian Korda winner with Denis Shapovalov trying to play spoiler. I think Medvedev is the pick to get to the semifinals and I don’t think he’ll even have to face Rafa.
Stefanos Tsitsipas, Felix Auger-Aliassime and maybe Cameron Norrie seem to be the go-to guys in the second quarter. I’d like Sinner but his results haven’t been there of late. I’d give Tsitsipas the slight edge as he does do well in Melbourne in front of that raucous Greek fan base. Norrie will be there but the question mark is Auger-Aliassime who suddenly has an X on his back after his stellar run to close 2022.
The bottom quarter is the weakest by far. Casper Ruud won’t get many votes — he never does — but remember he did make the US Open final. American No. 1 Taylor Fritz will be a popular pick and rightfully so — he should have beaten Djokovic a few years ago in Melbourne. Berrettini-Murray is maybe the match of the first round and I think Berrettini has a chance to make a big run here. Alexander Zverev is also making his Slam return but I don’t see him going far at this stage. So Ruud, Berrettini or Fritz. Right now I think Ruud might do it. Berrettini, though, will be a major hurdle for the Norwegian, more so than Fritz, I feel.
But right now, Djokovic’s hamstring will decide the title. If it’s ok, he wins #22. If not, I think we’ll see a brand new Grand Slam champion (sorry Daniil).
I do hope Rafa and Novak can and do play well. The two are of course battling for the GOAT title and Novak can tie him in Melbourne at 22. And as we saw last year, anything is possible.
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