Rafael Nadal has avoided both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the draw for the Australian Open.
The world number one, who won the tournament in 2009, is on the opposite half of the draw to both Federer and Djokovic, meaning he will only have to play one of them, and that would be in the final.
The Serbian and the Swiss, seeded second and third respectively, have won 13 Australian Open titles between them, and are on a collision course for the semi-final.
In the women’s draw, teenage sensation Coco Gauff has been drawn against fellow American and seven-time singles Grand Slam winner Venus Williams.
It will be a rematch from their classic at Wimbledon last year.
- Novak Djokovic names rivals for Australian Open
- Djokovic leads Serbia to victory in first ATP Cup
- Australian Open matches could be played on indoor courts
Nadal will be looking to go one better than last year, where he fell to Djokovic in straight sets in the final. He will begin his tournament against Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien, 72nd in the world. He is likely to face Nick Kyrgios in the fourth round.
On the road to the final is a potential quarter-final against fifth seed and two-time French Open finalist Dominic Thiem, and semi-final against Daniil Medvedev. Nadal has a Grand Slam final victory against both of these players.
On the other half of the draw, Djokovic faces a tricky tie against world number 37 Jan-Lennard Struff. Brit Dan Evans awaits in a potential third-round clash for the Serb, whilst Diego Schwartzmann likely will be Djokovic’s fourth round hurdle.
Djokovic is likely to have to beat one of Stefanos Tsitsipas or Roberto Bautista Agut in the quarter-final. Sixth seed Tisitsipas eliminated Federer before reaching the semi-final last year.
He will meet Federer in the semi-final, should the Swiss legend reach that stage. Federer faces an opener against USA’s Steve Johnson and a likely fourth-round clash with Grigor Dimitrov or Denis Shapovalov. Federer’s potential quarter-final sees an Italian job with either Matteo Berrettini or Fabio Fognini prior to an encounter with Djokovic.
Other British interest in the men’s draw sees Kyle Edmund up against it with a draw against Serbian Dusan Lajovic, who had a good showing at the ATP Cup. Cam Norrie, world number 67, faces Andy Murray’s double partner Pierre-Hugues Herbert and a potential second round with 11th seed David Goffin.
In the women’s draw, first seed and hometown hero Ash Barty will open against Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko with a potential quarter-final against last year’s finalist and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova. Barty was eliminated by Kvitova last year at the quarter-final as a 15th seed.
The winner of that clash, should it take place, is likely to face off against defending champion and third seed Naomi Osaka, who opens up with Czech Marie Bouzkova. Osaka looks to be on course for a meeting with Serena Williams in the quarter-finals. In a viral social media post this week, Osaka joked that Serena Williams was “her mom”.
Osaka, of course, defeated Serena in the 2018 US Open final in her inaugural singles Grand Slam win as a 20-year-old.
One of three British women in the draw, 12th seed Johanna Konta, who has struggled with a knee injury, faces Ons Jabeur in the first round with a likely fourth-round clash with Serena in a tough quarter of the draw.
Should the stars align and some upsets take place, we could see a Williams sisters reunion in the quarter-final, but it looks unlikely.
In the other half of the draw is a tasty first-round clash between world number 19 Donna Vekic and wildcard five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova. The Russian won her only Australian Open back in 2008.
Should Sharapova make it to the quarter-final, beyond sixth seed Belinda Bencic and 11th seed Aryna Sabalenka, she will likely face 2018 finalist and two-time Grand Slam singles champion Simona Halep.
The other British interest comes from the same half of the draw. Heather Watson has been paired with world number 62 Kristyna Pliskova, whilst Katie Boulter has the daunting prospect of fifth seed Eliina Svitolina.
Svitolina has recorded successive quarter-final finishes in the past two years at Melbourne Park, but will be hoping to follow up on successive Grand Slam semi-final appearances at Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows last year.
Should she reach the quarter-final, she faces a potential clash with 2016 Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber or second seed and 2019 semi-finalist Karolina Pliskova.
The tournament has been met with safety concerns following the Australian bushfires. It has marred qualification matches, some cancelled due to bad air quality and the withdrawal of Slovenia’s Dalila Jakupovic, who had to be helped off court after retiring in her match.News Now - Sport News