Strong Draw For Rafael Nadal As Federer And Djokovic Face Australian Open Tests

Top seed Rafael Nadal will get his Australian Open campaign underway against world No.81 Víctor Estrella Burgos in what is a favourable draw for the Spaniard.

The world No.1 has been drawn in a section with just one other player seeded in the top 25 (John Isner at 16th). Nadal is yet to play a competitive tournament in 2018 after delaying the start to his season due to his knee. Although he is expected to ease past Estrella Burgos, a player who has only reached the second round in Melbourne on one previous occasion. Following on from the opening round, he could play either Nicolas Jarry or Leonardo Mayer.

It isn’t until the third round where Nadal is expected to face his first test. Should it all go according to the rankings, Damir Dzumhur or Borna Coric awaits him. Both players have defeated the Spaniard before, but not since 2016. Coric has got the better of Nadal twice before, but Dzumhur’s triumph was due to a Nadal retirement. Following on from that, a potentially tricky clash with the fast-serving Isner awaits in the fourth round.

Reigning champion Roger Federer will be aiming to successfully defend a grand slam title for the first time since the 2008 US Open. He will start against Aljaz Bedene in what will be their first meeting. In Federer’s quarter, he could be in for an intriguing third round encounter against Richard Gasquet, a player who he leads 16-2 in their head-to-head. Then similar to Nadal, he may have to contend with another big server as both Milos Raonic and Sam Querrey loom as last-16 opponents.

Djokovic set for the ultimate test in killer quarter

Recently casting uncertainty over his Australian Open plans, Novak Djokovic will not be comforted by his draw. Seeded 14th, his lowest position in the tournament since 2007, the Serbian is set to be challenge from the onset. He will open against Donald Young, who reached the third round of the event back in 2014. From then on, it could only get harder for the six-time champion. Gael Monfils beckons in the second round. The Frenchman is fresh in confidence after winning the Doha Open last week.

A repeat of last year’s Italian Masters final could occur in the fourth round of the tournament. Positioned in the same section as fourth seed Alexander Zverev, the two are on course to clash. Zverev, who will start his campaign against Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano, is bidding to reach the second week of a grand slam for the first time in his career.

There is also a possibility that if Zverev and Djokovic face off, the winner could take on either Dominic Thiem or Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-finals. Although recent doubts has been cast over Wawrinka’s current fitness level.

The other contenders

Grigor Dimitrov will be hoping to replicate his run at Melbourne Park from 12 months ago. A semifinalist in 2017, the ATP Finals champion will start against a yet to be confirmed qualifier. Later on in the draw he could play Andrey Rublev in the third round followed by either Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Nick Kyrgios.

Former US Open champion Marin Cilic has received a boost in his draw. The Croat will not play a top 30 seed until at least the fourth round. Pablo Carreno Busta lurks as a potential fourth round opponent.

Finally, David Goffin could be on course for a fourth round meeting with Juan Martin del Potro. Goffin will start against a qualifier and Del Potro will take on Frances Tiafoe.

The full breakdown

Men’s draw

Key R1 matches to follow

Projected quarter-finals

Men’s seeds
1 Rafael Nadal (ESP)
2 Roger Federer (SUI)
3 Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)
4 Alexander Zverev (GER)
5 Dominic Thiem (AUT)
6 Marin Cilic (CRO)
7 David Goffin (BEL)
8 Jack Sock (USA)
9 Stan Wawrinka (SUI)
10 Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP)
11 Kevin Anderson (RSA)
12 Juan Martín del Potro (ARG)
13 Sam Querrey (USA)
14 Novak Djokovic (SRB)
15 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)
16 John Isner (USA)
17 Nick Kyrgios (AUS)
18 Lucas Pouille (FRA)
19 Tomas Berdych (CZE)
20 Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)
21 Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP)
22 Milos Raonic (CAN)
23 Gilles Muller (LUX)
24 Diego Schwartzman (ARG)
25 Fabio Fognini (ITA)
26 Adrian Mannarino (FRA)
27 Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER)
28 Damir Dzumhur (BIH)
29 Richard Gasquet (FRA)
30 Andrey Rublev (RUS)
31 Pablo Cuevas (URU)
32 Mischa Zverev (GER)


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