Rafael Nadal, the current title holder, will compete against up-and-coming English player Jack Draper in the first round of the Australian Open. He hopes to defend his 2022 championship and add to his collection of grand slam titles.
The top-ranked player Carlos Alcaraz might not be able to participate in the tournament due to an injury. However, with Novak Djokovic’s comeback, defending his title will be a tough task for Nadal.
Unfortunately, the draw on Thursday did not favor the 22-time major winner. If he is able to defeat Draper, he may have to face Brandon Nakashima, the reigning champion of the Next Gen ATP Finals.
The Spaniard may potentially face Daniil Medvedev in the quarterfinals, as they were opponents in the intense five-set final last year. Medvedev is aiming for his third consecutive finals appearance, having lost to Djokovic in 2021 and to Nadal in 2022.
A potential matchup of the 2021 final is in the works, as Djokovic and Nadal are in different brackets and Medvedev is also in the mix. The nine-time Australian Open winner will take on another Spaniard, Roberto Carballes Baena, in the initial round and could potentially face local favorite Nick Kyrgios in the quarter-finals.
The competition takes place one year after Djokovic was expelled from Australia shortly before the 2022 tournament. This was due to former immigration minister Alex Hawke’s decision that the tennis player’s presence could endanger public health and order. As a well-known athlete who had previously voiced disapproval of mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations, Djokovic could potentially serve as an influential figure for anti-vaccine individuals.
The minister’s choice to expel the former top-ranked player resulted in a three-year ban on their reentry.
Kyrgios, seeded 19th, is part of an exciting group in the tournament bracket that also features Holger Rune, Dan Evans, and Andrey Rublev.
Rublev, seeded fifth, entered the Australian Open but was unexpectedly defeated on Wednesday by world No. 110 Thanasi Kokkinakis in Adelaide 2. In his opening round, Rublev will face a highly-anticipated match against former world No. 3 and 2020 Australian Open runner-up, Dominic Thiem.
In the upcoming round, Andy Murray will compete against 13th-seeded Matteo Berrettini, which is also a highly anticipated match. In the past, Berrettini has defeated Murray in four sets at the 2022 US Open and holds a record of three wins out of their four ATP meetings.
The game is wide open without Barty.
After Ashleigh Barty’s retirement from tennis in the previous year, Iga Światek has emerged as the leading player in the sport and is now the top seed in the tournament. She will begin her matches against German player Jule Niemeier, but may potentially face a challenging quarterfinal match against American player Coco Gauff.
The 18-year-old sensation enters the competition in great shape, having claimed the ASB Classic title without losing a single set. She aims to continue her impressive 2022 season, which included reaching the Roland Garros final where she was defeated by Światek.
Before the quarterfinals, Gauff will first have to face 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the second round. However, Raducanu is currently racing against the clock to heal from an ankle injury.
In the second portion of the bracket, Ons Jabeur, the second-ranked player, will kick off her 2023 season with the goal of surpassing her previous year’s performance and claiming a grand slam victory. Despite reaching the finals at both Wimbledon and the US Open, the Tunisian ultimately fell short in her quest to become the first woman from an Arab or North African country to win a grand slam title.
In 2023, Jabeur will begin her season by facing Tamara Zidanšek, after not participating in the 2022 Open. She may also have a matchup against Aryna Sabalenka, who recently won her 11th career title at Adelaide 1 after a 19-month drought.
In other news, American tennis player Jessica Pegula has been placed in the same section of the tournament as Maria Sakkari. Pegula recently led Team USA to success in the first United Cup, where she secured a impressive straight-set victory against Światek. With her recent string of quarterfinal appearances in Melbourne and strong performance, she aims to create an exciting semifinal match with her United Cup rival.