Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal on opposite sides of a tie at the Australian Open

Melbourne, Australia – Contenders Novak Djokovic And Rafael Nadal They were placed into the two halves of the Australian Open in Thursday’s draw, meaning the 43-times Grand Slam champions can only meet in the final at Melbourne Park.

Nine-time Australian champion Djokovic is back in the grueling tournament after missing it last year when his visa was revoked and he was deported from the country because he was not vaccinated against COVID-19. He also could not compete in the 2022 US Open.

Fourth seed Djokovic will open his bid for a 10th Australian Open title against the Spaniard Roberto Karpeles Baena In a tournament that starts on Monday.

Iga Swiatekthe No. 1 ranked player in the women’s tournament, faces Germany Julie Niemeyerwhich was ranked No. 68 in the opening round. The Polish player reached the semi-finals at Melbourne Park in 2022, the year she won the French and US Open titles.

But the main focus in the first round will be on Nadal, who faces a potentially tough showdown against a British player Jack Draper. Draper, 21, was a semi-finalist at the Next Generation Championships in November and will also play a semi-finalist at the Adelaide International on Friday.

Her last five-time Australian Open finalist is a round opener Britain’s Andy Murray against italian Matteo Berettinithe previous Wimbledon finalist and is seeded No. 13.

Murray defeated the Australian Alex de Minor 6-3, 6-3 in an exhibition game on Thursday and he is happy with his form.

“It’s always difficult to play in exhibition matches like it’s the first round of a grand slam, but I wanted to let it all out on the court to give my body the best preparation, see how I was moving, see how I was serving, and it worked out well,” Murray said. .

Possible men’s quarter-finals by seeding are: Nadal vs. No. 7 Daniel Medvedev In what could be a rematch of last year’s final at Melbourne Park, which Nadal won after dropping the first two sets, and finishing third. Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. No. 6 Felix Auger-Aliassime In the top half and Djokovic against No. 5 Andrey Rublevand No. 2 Casper Road vs. No. 8 Taylor Fritz in the lower half.

Nadal has a career-leading 22 Grand Slam titles, more than Djokovic.

Wimbledon final Nick Kyrgioswho faces Roman Cifullin In the opening round, Djokovic will play an exhibition match on Friday in Melbourne.

“I am one of the best players in the world, so I will definitely go into the Australian Open and any major tournament with confidence,” said Kyrgios.

Anas JaberAnd she ranked second, who reached the finals of Wimbledon and the US Open in 2022, and plays with Tamara Zidancic in the women’s draw.

Number 3 Jessica Pegulawho captained the US team that won the United Mixed Nationals Cup in Sydney last week, faces Jacqueline Christian Romania in the first round.

Australia Cup captain Billie Jean King Alicia Molickwho attended the draw at Melbourne Park, said Pegula was the contender.

“I feel like she has mental stability and I really feel she could be here in the later stage of the Australian Open,” Molik said.

The seventh seed Coco Jovewho won a tournament in Auckland last week, faces a tough first-round test against him Katerina Sinyakovawho defeated her in the finals of the Billie Jean King Cup in November.

Former US Open Champion for Great Britain Emma RaducanoShe will face world number 74 Germany, who withdrew from their round of 16 match at the ASB Classic due to injury last week. Tamara Korbach.

The potential women’s quarterfinal matches are: Swiatek against Gauff in what will be a rematch of last year’s French Open final, won by Swiatek, and Pegula against the 6th seed. Maria Scary in the upper half of the arch; And Jaber opposite No. 5 Ariana Sabalenkaand number 4 Caroline Garcia vs. No. 8 Daria Kasatkina in the lower half.

Another big first round match is the two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka against Sophia Keninwho won the title at Melbourne Park in 2020.

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