Australian Open Draw: 5 Matches To Watch | ATP Tour

Tennis fans have been eagerly anticipating the year’s first major, and with the draw now set, it is clear that the Australian Open will provide fireworks from Day 1.

Thursday’s draw ceremony revealed a host of marquee matchups in the men’s singles opening round, including Matteo Berrettini taking on Andy Murray and Andrey Rublev squaring off with Dominic Thiem. breaks down five matches to watch in the first round Down Under.

[13] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) vs. Andy Murray (GBR)

Murray has a chance for instant Grand Slam revenge after a closely contested four-set loss to Berrettini at the 2022 US Open. Berrettini also defeated Murray in the Stuttgart final last season, and will bring a 3-1 ATP Head2Head edge into their Melbourne meeting. Murray’s lone win against Berrettini came in 2019 (Beijing).

Berrettini, who is featured in Netflix’s Break Point tennis docuseries, enjoyed a career-best run to the Australian Open semi-finals last year, including an epic five-set win against Carlos Alcaraz. His journey with Team Italy to the final of the inaugural United Cup leaves him with plenty of match play ahead of the Murray showdown. Berrettini produced a 3-2 singles record to open his 2023 season at the mixed-gender team event, earning Top 10 wins against Casper Ruud and Hubert Hurkacz before tight losses to Stefanos Tsitsipas and Taylor Fritz.

Murray, by contrast, has played just one ATP Tour match this season — a straight-sets defeat to eventual finalist Sebastian Korda at the Adelaide International 1. A five-time finalist in Melbourne, the Briton reached the second round last year after earning his first win at the event since 2017.

[5] Andrey Rublev vs. [WC] Dominic Thiem (AUT)

Two of the game’s biggest baseline hitters will trade blows in a matchup that would have been reserved for the later rounds in past years. As Thiem continues to work his way back up the Pepperstone ATP Rankings following a wrist injury, he has lost the protection of a Grand Slam seed. But if he can break Rublev’s four-match winning streak in their ATP Head2Head series, Thiem will inherit the fifth seed’s path in the draw.

The pair last met in the 2022 Gijon semis, with Rublev earning a 6-4, 6-4 victory on the way to the title.

Neither man will be particularly happy to face such a challenging first-round opponent in Melbourne, but whoever comes through this blockbuster matchup will be battle-tested for the journey ahead.

[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Jack Draper (GBR)

Defending champion Rafael Nadal will not have the luxury of playing his way into the tournament, with the dangerous Jack Draper awaiting him in the opening round. While Nadal is still seeking his first win of 2023 after two United Cup defeats, Draper already owns a Top 20 win this year after he beat Karen Khachanov to advance to the semi-finals at the Adelaide International 2.

Draper also upset Tommy Paul in Adelaide in what will serve as a warning shot to Nadal, who was beaten by Paul at the Rolex Paris Masters in November.

The matchup will be the first between the 36-year-old Nadal and the 21-year-old Draper, who competed at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan to close out his 2022 season.

“It’ll be amazing to play on court with him, he’s a great champion,” Draper said of Nadal.[There are] a lot of emotions obviously when I think of playing him, but that’s one thing… I’ve still got to go and play tomorrow [in Adelaide] and hopefully do well in this first tournament.

“Whatever happens, it’ll be a special occasion for me, still very young in my career, so it’s great to have these kinds of experiences and exposure to playing someone like Rafa on a big court like that. But I want to play really well and I want to compete hard and do the best I can.”

Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) vs. Fabio Fognini (ITA)

Home favorite Thanasi Kokkinakis will look to extend his perfect 2-0 record against Fabio Fognini in this matchup, one year after storming to the Australian Open doubles title alongside Nick Kyrgios. The Aussie has never been beyond the singles second round at his home Slam, but he will enter this year’s event full of confidence after upsetting Andrey Rublev in Adelaide this week — a year after lifting his first ATP Tour title in his hometown.

Fognini will be seeking his first win of 2023 after a three-set defeat to Jenson Brooksby this week at the ASB Classic. The Italian has reached the Australian Open fourth round on four occasions, most recently in 2020 and 2021. He also reached the men’s doubles quarter-finals at the event last season alongside Simone Bolelli.

[21] Borna Coric (CRO) vs. Jiri Lehecka (CZE)

Two Next Gen ATP Finals alumni will square off in this intriguing contest, with both men eager to build on strong 2022 seasons. Borna Coric was named the Comeback Player Of The Year in the 2022 ATP Awards for his success after missing a year due to a shoulder injury. After making his return at Indian Wells, the 26-year-old charged back into the winners’ circle in style at the Western & Southern Open, defeating Nadal, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Tsitsipas en route to the ATP Masters 1000 title.

Jiri Lehecka finished his 2022 campaign by reaching the finals in Milan before kickstarting the new season with a win against Alexander Zverev at the United Cup. The 21-year-old is set to meet Coric for the first time in Melbourne.

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