Getty Images

2020 Australian Open men’s singles draw

Leave a comment

Going into the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal has never been closer to Roger Federer‘s career men’s Grand Slam singles titles record. Same goes for Novak Djokovic.

Nadal and Djokovic could again meet in the Melbourne final, each continuing his quest for tennis history.

Nadal, ranked No. 1 and the top seed, would tie Federer’s record of 20 Slams with his second Australian Open title (and first since 2009). The Spaniard would also join legends Rod Laver and Roy Emerson as the only men to win all four majors multiple times.

Djokovic, a record seven-time Australian Open champion (including trouncing Nadal in the 2019 final), is at 16 Grand Slam singles titles after winning a pair each of the last two years.

But Djokovic may need to beat Federer (a six-time Aussie Open champ) in the semifinals to reach the final.

Nadal’s half of the draw includes two men he beat in 2019 Grand Slam finals — No. 4 Daniil Medvedev and No. 5 Dominic Thiem.

Nadal, Djokovic and Federer combined to win 14 of the last 15 Australian Opens, but a new generation began making headway last year.

Djokovic could get Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals, a year after Tsitsipas knocked out Federer in the round of 16.

Federer, 38, could get 20-year-old Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the fourth round and 23-year-old Italian Matteo Berrettini in the quarterfinals.

Nadal’s potential path includes mercurial Australian Nick Kyrgios (24) in the fourth round and Thiem (26) or Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime (20) in the quarterfinals.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

AUSTRALIAN OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women

2020 Australian Open women’s singles draw

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Serena Williams‘ road to history at the Australian Open is once again full of obstacles in the women’s singles draw.

Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam singles champion attempting (for the seventh time) to tie Margaret Court‘s career record total, could play defending champion Naomi Osaka in the quarterfinals in Melbourne. No. 1 Ash Barty could be her semifinal opponent.

Williams is coming off her first tournament title in three years — since she won the 2017 Australian Open while eight weeks pregnant — to become the first player of either gender to win top-level titles in four different decades in the Open Era.

Williams’ quarter of the draw also includes a first-round matchup between older sister Venus Williams and 15-year-old sensation Coco Gauff, a rematch of their Wimbledon tilt. The Venus-Gauff winner could get Osaka in the third round and Serena in the quarters.

The bottom half of the draw includes No. 2 seed Karolina Pliskova (yet to win a Slam), 2016 Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber and two-time major winner Simona Halep.

Maria Sharapova, the 2008 Australian Open champ, needed a wild card to get into the main draw. The Russian gets 19th seed Donna Vekic in the first round.

Canadian Bianca Andreescu, who beat Williams in the U.S. Open final, withdrew citing rehab from a knee injury that forced her to retire during her last match on Oct. 30.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

AUSTRALIAN OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women

Coco Gauff, Venus Williams to meet in Australian Open first round

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Get ready for Coco Gauff vs. Venus Williams, Part II.

That headline-grabbing pair of tennis players — Gauff, 15, is the youngest woman in the Australian Open; Venus is the oldest — will meet again in the first round of a Grand Slam tournament after Thursday’s draw at Melbourne Park put them in a tough quarter that also includes Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka.

Gauff had a breakout run at Wimbledon last year, when she became the youngest qualifier in tournament history, upset Venus Williams to start her main draw run and became the youngest player to reach the round of 16 there since Martina Hingis in 1996.

The winner of Coco vs. Venus — no last names required — could meet defending champion Osaka in the third round. The winner there potentially faces Venus’ younger sister, 23-time major winner Serena, in the quarterfinals.

Serena Williams is coming off a victory in the ASB Classic in Auckland, her first title since her victory at the 2017 Australian Open and her time off the tour to have her daughter. She is seeded eighth in Melbourne and will meet Anastasia Potapova in the first round. Osaka opens against Marie Bouzkova.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women

Defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer were drawn into the same half of the field at Melbourne Park, where play begins Monday, so they could meet in the semifinals.

The second-ranked Djokovic has won a record seven Australian Open trophies and is coming off his unbeaten run at the inaugural ATP Cup, where he guided Serbia to the title. Federer hasn’t added to his 20 Grand Slam titles since winning the Australian Open in 2018, his sixth title at Melbourne Park.

Top-ranked Rafael Nadal could face a fourth-round match against Nick Kyrgios — their blockbuster at Wimbledon last year was memorable — and a projected quarterfinal against Dominic Thiem, the man he has beaten in the last two French Open finals.

The so-called Big Three of men’s tennis joined other stars, including Serena Williams, Osaka and Gauff, at the Rally for Relief on Wednesday night, an exhibition event that raised millions of dollars for relief efforts for the wildfires that have devastated parts of Australia, leaving at least 27 people and millions of animals dead. Smoke from the bush fires had the air quality in Melbourne ranked among the worst in the world earlier in the week.

On the court, Gauff looked comfortable and relaxed in the company of champions.

Osaka, speaking before the draw was revealed, said she didn’t like to look at who she was playing until the day before her match. She joked in a TV broadcast that she’d leave the studio if she was forced to watch the draw.

It will certainly have her interest.

Osaka won back-to-back majors, claiming her first Grand Slam title at the 2018 U.S. Open before winning in Australia last year. Her best run since then was to the fourth round at the U.S. Open, where she thinks she got some benefit from the experience.

“I had a try at being defending champion at the U.S. Open. I’m more prepared this time,” she said.

Top-ranked Ash Barty is in the same half of the field and is a potential semifinal opponent for Osaka.

Barty will open against Lesia Tsurenko. That quarter includes 10th-seeded Madison Keys, the U.S. Open runner-up in 2017, and seventh-seeded Petra Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion and the runner-up in Australia last year in her first major final since a violent home invasion in late 2016 left her with career-threatening hand injuries.

Serena Williams is aiming to equal the all-time record for most women’s majors, held by Australia’s Margaret Court.

After her drought-breaking run to a 73rd career singles title in Auckland, Williams will again be among the favorites at Melbourne Park, where she has won the title seven times dating back to 2003.

In other standout first-round matches, five-time major champion Maria Sharapova, playing as a wild card because of an injury-interrupted 2019, will meet 19th-seeded Donna Vekic, and two-time major champion Simona Halep, the runner-up here in 2018, will take on Jennifer Brady, who upset Barty at the Brisbane International last week.

On the men’s side, U.S. Open finalist Daniil Medvedev, seeded No. 4, will take on Frances Tiafoe, who made a breakthrough run to the quarterfinals in Australia last year.

The projected men’s quarterfinals are Nadal vs. Thiem, Medvedev against Alexander Zverev, Djokovic against Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Federer against Matteo Berrettini. The injury-enforced absence of Alex de Minaur lifted Milos Raonic, the 2016 Wimbledon runner-up finalist, into the 32nd and last spot among the men’s seeds.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: A century later, Naomi Osaka, Kei Nishikori can bring Japan Olympic tennis to forefront