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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday January 13, 2022

 
Daniil Medvedev

Things are set in Melbourne, but the scenarios are far from simple - join us as we comb through the draw.

Photo Source: AP

The draws are set at the 2022 Australian Open and all that needs to be done is the placement of qualifiers. With three days until main draw action begins, let’s take stock of the draw and go through a few key points.

Tennis Express


Djokovic is in – for now

After much deliberation – and speculation – nine-time champion Novak Djokovic was placed in his usual slot at the top of the draw. If the 34-year-old World No.1 can avoid deportation he’s sitting relatively pretty with a fairly clear path to the quarterfinals. Djokovic, one of two players bidding for a record 21st men’s singles Grand Slam title at Melbourne, opens with Miomir Kecmanovic and inhabits a quarter of the draw in which the only other seeds are No.25 Lorenzo Sonego, No. 17 Gael Monfils and No.16 Cristian Garin.

If he powers to the quarters, No.7 seed Matteo Berrettini, the man Djokovic has knocked out at the last three Slams, could be waiting.

Medvedev could be challenged early

On the lower half of the draw things aren’t nearly as simple for last year’s runner-up Daniil Medvedev. The Russian opens with Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen, but things could get decidedly more complicated after that. Nick Kyrgios, recently recovered from Covid, waits as a potential second-round opponent, and 29th-seeded Ugo Humbert could meet Medvedev in the third round.

Both Kyrgios and Humbert own 2-0 records against Medvedev, and clearly it is to Kyrgios’ advantage to play Medvedev so early in the draw. If the Aussie can breeze through his first-round against a qualifier he just might have enough in him to stage a mammoth week one upset. If he doesn’t he might be able to take the legs from Medvedev, which could leave him exposed a bit against Humbert.

Is the door open for Jannik Sinner?

No.11 seed Jannik Sinner is looking for his biggest Australian Open to date, and he’s in pretty good shape to make something happen. The Italian, who went 3-0 at ATP Cup last week, while playing No.2 singles for Italy, opens with a qualifier and then faces the winner of a contest between Australia’s Jordan Thompson and American Steve Johnson.

If Sinner finds himself in round three, he’ll likely come up against either Andy Murray or Nikoloz Basilashvili. Take it one step further and Sinner would run into the eighth seed, Norway’s Casper Ruud – Sinner took both of their meetings in straight sets last year.

Another important item to take note off: anchoring Sinner’s section of the draw is Stefanos Tsitsipas, the No.4 seed who had elbow surgery less than two months ago. It might be presumptuous to believe that Tsitsipas is going to be in top form in the second week of a major so soon after surgery. Advantage, Sinner.

Alcaraz, 18, could cause problems

Carlos Alcaraz has been a bit of mystery man in 2022. He tested positive last December and elected to make up for lost time on the practice courts rather than showing up in Australia to play tune up event. Not sure how that is going to work for the 18-year-old phenom. He’s been compared to Nadal often already in his young career, and if he is anything like Nadal he needs plenty of matches under his belt before he hits top level.

The question: Can Alcaraz hit the ground running in Australia? He made his Grand Slam main draw debut here last year, defeating Botic van de Zandschulp in the opening round. If Alcaraz can find his form and make it through two rounds, all eyes will be on his third round, likely against the No.7 seed Matteo Berrettini. Alcaraz defeated Berrettini in three tight sets last year at Vienna, so it is certainly not out of the question that the 18-year-old makes another run at the Happy Slam.

Keep in mind that Alcaraz became the youngest men’s singles Grand Slam quarterfinalist in US Open history last year after he defeated Cam Norrie, Arthur Rinderknech and Stefanos Tsitsipas on his way to the last eight.

Week one popcorn

In addition to a possible Berrettini v Alcaraz title, and the aforementioned Medvedev tussles (against Kyrgios and Humbert potentially), were looking forward to some other matchups:

American Sebastian Korda opens his season against No.12-seeded Cameron Norrie in round one. Korda recently had Covid and has yet to play this season, but hopes surrounding him remain extremely high.

Rafael Nadal faces Marcos Giron in round one and could square off with Karen Khachanov in the third round. It will be amazing to see the 35-year-old back in action after a long hiatus due to a foot injury last year.

A potential third-rounder between Hubert Hurkacz and Aslan Karatsev could be dreamy, as well as the first-round contest between Andy Murray and Nikoloz Basilasvhili. Murray recently defeated the Georgian in a three hour and 13-minute battle at Sydney, and also defeated Basilashvili in four sets at Wimbledon last year in the first round.

Murray is bidding for his first win at the Australian Open since 2017!


 

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