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Djokovic and Nadal in same half; everything you need to know about the 2022 Australian Open men’s singles draw

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have been drawn into the same half of the Australian Open men’s singles draw. Find out more about where the top players landed and their paths to the second week.

Novak Djokovic, Open d'Australie 2022 Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic practices at Melbourne Park as questions remain over the legal battle regarding his visa to play in the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia, January 12, 2022. || 217698_0021

After a week’s worth of intense controversy and speculation surrounding the cancelled – then uncancelled – visa of world No 1 Novak Djokovic, the nine-time champion has taken his place at the top of the 2022 Australian Open draw. Barring deportation – the possibility is real but diminishing every day – Djokovic will join the field of 128 singles players as the heavy favourite when main draw action kicks off in Melbourne on Monday January 17.

Here’s a look at the full draw as it stands after Thursday’s draw ceremony (on the official website).

First-rounders we want to see

Novak Djokovic (1) v Miomir Kecmanovic

The world No 1 hasn’t played since the Davis Cup Final in early December, so he might benefit from facing a familiar foe, fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in the opening round. Djokovic defeated 78th-ranked Kecmanovic in the quarter-finals at Belgrade last spring, and he’s spent plenty of quality time with Kecmanovic in practice sessions and at various team events. He’ll not have to think about tactics very much ahead of this one, and thus will be able to focus most of his energy on blocking out external pressure that he may be feeling as he opens the tournament under truly bizarre circumstances.

Andy Murray v Nikoloz Basilashvili (21)

It’s deja vu all over again for Murray, who took out the Georgian on Wednesday night in Sydney, winning a marathon battle that lasted three hours and 13 minutes, 6-7(4), 7-6(3), 6-3. Project that out to five sets, if you dare, and get a five-hour opening-round contest for Murray, a holder of 48 career victories in Melbourne, but none since he defeated Sam Querrey in the round of 16 in 2017.

Murray also faced Basilashvili last year at Wimbledon, also in the first round, where he got by the Georgian in four tricky sets.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) v Mikael Ymer

A rematch of last year’s third-rounder between the Greek and the Swede (won by Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-1, 6-1) should give viewers important insight into the overall health of Tsitsipas’ recently repaired right elbow. The talented 23-year-old is still working himself back to full fitness, and did suffer some pain during his only completed singles match at the ATP Cup, a 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3 loss at the hands of Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman. After another week and a half of resting, recuperating and training, it will be interesting to see how close Tsitsipas is to peak form in round one.

Other 2022 Australian Open first-rounders to look for

  • Rafael Nadal (6) v Marcos Giron
  • Daniil Medvedev (2) v Henri Laaksonen
  • John Isner (22) v Maxime Cressy
  • Cameron Norrie (12) v Sebastian Korda
  • Matteo Berrettini (7) v Brandon Nakashima
  • Alex De Minaur (32) v Vincenzo Musetti

Matches we would like to see before the quarters

Matteo Berrettini v Carlos Alcaraz – third round

Matteo Berrettini was taken out by the 18-year-old Spaniard last year at Vienna in three sets, in a third-set tiebreak. All eyes will be on the rising Alcaraz during week one to see if he can pick up where he left off in 2021, a season that saw him rise over 100 spots in the rankings and become the youngest men’s singles Grand Slam quarter-finalist since Michael Chang in 1990.

Daniil Medvedev v Nick Kyrgios – second round

What kind of playing shape will Nick Kyrgios be in after contracting Covid last week? Tough question, but if the Aussie is up to it, he’ll take part in the popcorn battle of the second round against second-seeded Daniil Medvedev. The Russian has lost both of his previous meetings with Kyrgios, both of which occurred in 2019, at Rome and Washington, D.C. As you’ll see in the next section, Medvedev has one of the trickier draws among the top-seeded men…

Daniil Medvedev v Ugo Humbert – third round

Not once but twice has promising Frenchman Ugo Humbert ruffled the feathers of Russian star Daniil Medvedev. Humbert, a disruptive, dynamic southpaw with a game that has top-10 written all over it, defeated Medvedev in their first meeting in 2020 in Hamburg – on clay. Those who know of Medvedev’s struggles on clay would not be surprised, but Humbert’s 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(2) triumph over Medvedev at ATP Cup a few weeks ago is a lot more eye-catching.

Others to hope for :

  • Casper Ruud (8) v Alex de Minaur (32) – third round
  • Taylor Fritz (20) v Frances Tiafoe – second round
  • Rafael Nadal (6) v Karen Khachanov (28) – third round
  • Felix Auger-Aliassime (9) v Alejandro Davidovich Fokina – second round
  • Denis Shapovalov (14) v Holger Rune – second round
  • Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) v Grigor Dimitrov (26) – third round

Projected quarter-finals, if seeds hold

Novak Djokovic (1) v Matteo Berrettini (7)

Poor Matteo Berrettini. The Italian has bowed out of the last three Slams at the hands of Djokovic – in the quarter-finals at Roland Garros, the final at Wimbledon and the quarter-finals at the US Open – and he probably wishes he never had to play the Serb again. But lo and behold the pair are slated for another last eight battle if the seeds hold in Melbourne.

Alexander Zverev (3) v Rafael Nadal (6)

Nadal stopped a three-match losing streak against Zverev last season at Rome, but Zverev has been a tour de force in the last six months, winning Olympic gold and increasing his title count to 19. Zverev took Nadal to five sets five years ago in Melbourne, in 2017, and he certainly has the game to stop Nadal if the King of Clay isn’t playing his most inspired tennis at the Aussie Open this year.

Casper Ruud (8) v Stefanos Tsitsipas (4)

Casper Ruud has yet to travel past the round of 16 at a major in his career, so if he finds himself standing across the net from Stefanos Tsitsipas in Melbourne this year it would already be a great achievement for the Norwegian. He’s known as a clay-courter but has made giant strides on hard courts in the last six months and could potentially be a threat for Tsitsipas, especially if the Greek is not yet at 100 percent fitness. The No 4 seed had elbow surgery in November, and a deep run in Australia this year may not be in the cards because of it.

Andrey Rublev (5) v Daniil Medvedev (2)

Rublev came down with Covid in December, after playing in Abu Dhabi, and has not played a tour-level match since. The Russian needed the downtime – he was one of the busiest players on tour in 2021, winning 53 of 76 matches. If he finds his form in Melbourne, he could be a potential nemesis for Medvedev. Rublev managed to notch his first win win over Medvedev in Cincinnati last season, snapping an 0 for 4 streak against the Russian that included lopsided losses at the US Open in 2020 and the Australian Open last year. Will his win in Cincinnati signal a sea change in the course of the rivalry?

Djokovic’s projected path to the final

  • 1st round: Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB)
  • 2nd round: Tommy Paul (USA) or qualifier
  • 3rd round: Lorenzo Sonego (25) (ITA)
  • 4th round: Cristian Garin (16) (CHI) or Gael Monfils (17) (FRA)
  • Quarter-finals: Matteo Berrettini (7) (ITA)
  • Semi-finals: Alexander Zverev (3) (GER) or Rafael Nadal (6) (ESP)
  • Final: Daniil Medvedev (2) (RUS)

Medvedev’s projected path to the final

  • 1st round: Henri Laaksonen (SUI)
  • 2nd round: Nick Kyrgios (AUS) or qualifier
  • 3rd round: Ugo Humbert (29) (FRA)
  • 4th round: Diego Schwartzman(13) (ARG)
  • Quarter-finals: Andrey Rublev (5) (RUS)
  • Semi-finals: Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) (GRE) or Casper Ruud (8) (NOR)
  • Final: Novak Djokovic (1) (SRB)

Nadal’s projected path to the final

  • 1st round: Marcos Giron (USA)
  • 2nd round: Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) or qualifier
  • 3rd round: Karen Khachanov (28) (RUS)
  • 4th round: Hubert Hurkacz (10) (POL)
  • Quarter-finals: Alexander Zverev (3) (GER)
  • Semi-finals: Novak Djokovic (2) (SRB)
  • Final: Daniil Medvedev (2) (RUS)
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