How will Andy Murray approach his first major since becoming the recently knighted world number one? How will longtime favorite Novak Djokovic approach the tournament chasing a record seventh title? How will Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal build their campaign to chase history? And how will the recent shifting of guard affect the tournament – will the younger players prove their mettle at Melbourne Park?
The Australian Open 2017, the only Grand Slam of the Asia-pacific, that starts from the 16th, brings us to an interesting proposition, unlike most of the recent tournaments in the same category. We take a look at what the draw has in store for us.
Men’s Singles Main Draw Analysis
The top half is headed by current world number 1 Sir Andy Murray who has lost a record 5 Australian Open finals – four of which have been against Djokovic and one against Federer – without having won one, has a 45-11 record at the tournament. He will look to change that surely, as he opens his campaign against Ilya Marchenko. Yen-Hsun Lu could be his probable second round opponent and dangerous floater Sam Querrey – seeded 31st – awaits in the third round. Tour veteran John Isner, a resurgent Mischa Zverev and upcoming youngster Lucas Pouille are the best bets to stop his campaign as early as the 4th round.
The other part of the quarter is delicately poised with Swiss Maestro Roger Federer, seeded 17th (seeded outside top 10 for the first time since US Open 2002) expecting a potential matchup with 10th seed hard-hitting Czech Tomas Berdych in the third round. Asia’s best hope Kei Nishikori seeded 5th, has been doubtful of participation in this year’s edition, but if he stays fit, a potential 4th round clash against Federer/Berdych awaits, the danger of which looms. The winner of this part of the draw would potentially face Andy Murray in the quarterfinals.
Interesting 1st round matches: Andrey Kuznetsov vs Kei Nishikori, Ryan Harrison vs Nicolas Mahut
Swiss number 1 Stan Wawrinka will be eager to recreate the magic of 2014 when he stunned the top 2 – Djokovic in the quarterfinal and Nadal in the final – to win his maiden Grand Slam singles title. He opens his campaign against left handed Martin Klizan of Slovakia. A tricky potential 2nd round opponent for Stan would be Steve Johnson of the USA who has been playing some of his best tennis since 2016.
The astounding talent of Nick Kyrgios, seeded 14th, opens his campaign against unseeded Gastao Elias and is expected to meet Stan in the 4th round for a place in the quarterfinals. The mercurial Kyrgios, who has long been touted as a soon-to-be potential Grand Slam champ, will try to work on his form and make good use of his talent at this home tournament.
In the other portion of the quarter, 23rd seed Jack Sock has a potential 2nd round opponent in NextGen player Russian Karen Khachanov before he runs into 12th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the third round. Sock has enjoyed a good run of form in late 2016 that he’ll look to carry on in this tournament as well. 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic opens his campaign against Polish Jerzy Janowicz. He’ll look to reach his peak form as early as possible since he has potentially tricky match-ups against Bernard Tomic in the third round and Tsonga/Sock in the 4th. The winner of this part of the draw would potentially face Wawrinka/Kyrgios for a place in the semifinals.
Interesting 1st round matches: Karen Khachanov vs Adrian Mannarino, Marin Cilic vs Jerzy Janowicz
This quarter of the draw is headed by the Showman — 6th seed Gael Monfils at one end and the incredibly calm, composed and professional, 3rd seed Milos Raonic on the other. But the primary attraction of the draw is 14-time major champion Rafael Nadal who begins his campaign for a historical double Grand Slam against Florian Mayer. A potential match-up with the highest ranked teenager Alexander Zverev in the third round could be tricky. Gael Monfils, who opens his campaign against lefty Jiri Vesely, to hear those ooh’s and aah’s from the crowd, has a rather difficult probable 2nd round opponent in NextGen Borna Coric. If both succeed in the earlier rounds, Monfils and Nadal are headed for a mouthwatering 4th round clash.
3rd seed and one of the key contenders for the title, Milos Raonic opens his campaign to try and win his maiden grand Slam trophy, against another showman Dustin Brown from Germany before he potentially faces American teen Taylor Fritz in the 2nd round. 21st seed and former French Open finalist, David Ferrer who hasn’t been overwhelming lately, faces two difficult opponents in Aussie teen Omar Jasika (1st round) and recent Chennai Open finalist NextGen Daniil Medvedev (potential 2nd round)
Roberto Bautista Agut, 13th seed has been playing exciting tennis of late and has been drawn to face Milos Raonic in the 4th round. The highest seed Milos Raonic is expected to face is Nadal or Monfils in the quarterfinals from this quarter of the draw.
Interesting 1st round matches: Gael Monfils vs Jiri Vesely, Dustin Brown vs Milos Raonic
This quarter of the draw is headed by six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic who opens his campaign against the powerful Fernando Verdasco, who, not more than a week ago, held 5 match points against Djokovic in an eventual loss. Britain’s biggest hope after Andy Murray, Kyle Edmund could face Djokovic in the third round if both of them face success in the first two rounds. A very tricky potential 4th round opponent for the 2nd seed lies in Grigor Dimitrov, the 15th seed who defeated three top 10 players in succession to win his first title in 2 years, last week. Dimitrov could potentially face young stalwart Hyeon Chung in the 2nd round.
Knocking on top 10’s door is Belgian 11th seed David Goffin who has a possible 3rd round match-up with big serving 20th seed Ivo Karlovic. Goffin could potentially meet 8th seed talented Austrian Dominic Thiem in the 4th round. Tommy Haas, coming off of retirement, debuts at the Australian Open against Benoit Paire of France. Feliciano Lopez possibly awaits Thiem in the 3rd round before he could face Goffin. The winner of this part of the draw is expected to meet Djokovic in the quarterfinals to advance up to the semis.
Interesting 1st round matches: Tommy Haas vs Benoit Paire, Fernando Verdasco vs Novak Djokovic
The two weeks at Melbourne Park has traditionally been Novak Djokovic’s happy hunting ground with the Serb winning 6 of the last 9 editions. It will be interesting to see who fares how this time. With so many potentially exciting matches awaiting us, it’s the approach that shall make the difference.