Rivals Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal were placed on opposite

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Rivals Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have been positioned on reverse halves of the Australian Open bracket within the draw Thursday, that means the homeowners of a mixed 43 Grand Slam singles titles might solely meet within the closing at Melbourne Park.

Djokovic, a nine-time champion in Australia, returns to the hard-court match after lacking it final 12 months when his visa was revoked and he was deported from the nation as a result of he isn’t vaccinated towards COVID-19. He additionally couldn’t compete on the 2022 U.S. Open.

Fourth-seeded Djokovic will open his bid for a tenth Australian Open title towards Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena within the match which begins Monday.

Iga Swiatek, the ladies’s No. 1-ranked participant, takes on German Jule Niemeier, who’s ranked No.68, within the opening spherical. The Polish participant was a semifinalist at Melbourne Park in 2022, a 12 months wherein she gained the French and U.S. Open titles.

However the principle first-round focus will probably be on Nadal, who faces a probably difficult match towards British participant Jack Draper. Draper, who’s 21, was a semifinalist within the Subsequent Gen Championships in November and also will play in a semifinal of the Adelaide International on Friday.

One other opening-round spotlight has five-time Australian Open finalist Andy Murray towards Italian Matteo Berrettini, a former Wimbledon finalist who’s the No. 13-seeded participant.

Murray defeated Australian Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-3 in an exhibition match on Thursday and is happy together with his type.

“It’s at all times tough in exhibition matches to play like it’s the first round of a Grand Slam however I needed to attempt to go away all the pieces out on the court docket to present my physique the very best preparation, to see how I used to be transferring, to see how I used to be serving, and it went effectively,” Murray mentioned.

The potential males’s quarterfinals by seeding are: Nadal vs. No. 7 Daniil Medvedev in what can be a rematch of final 12 months’s closing at Melbourne Park, gained by Nadal after dropping the preliminary two units, and No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. No. 6 Felix Auger-Aliassime within the high half; and Djokovic vs. No. 5 Andrey Rublev, and No. 2 Casper Ruud vs. No. 8 Taylor Fritz within the backside half.

Nadal has a number one 22 Grand Slam singles titles, yet one more than Djokovic.

Wimbledon finalist Nick Kyrgios, who faces Roman Safiullin within the opening spherical, will play Djokovic in an exhibition match on Friday in Melbourne.

“I’m top-of-the-line gamers on the earth, so I’m positively going to enter the Australian Open and any Grand Slam with confidence,” Kyrgios mentioned.

Ons Jabeur, who reached each the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals in 2022, is seeded second and performs Tamara Zidansek within the ladies’s draw.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula, who led the U.S. group that claimed the combined groups United Cup in Sydney final week, faces Jacqueline Cristian from Romania within the first spherical.

Australia’s Billie Jean King Cup captain Alicia Molik, who attended the draw at Melbourne Park, mentioned Pegula is a contender.

“I really feel like she has the psychological fortitude and I actually really feel like she may be right here late within the stage of the Australian Open,” Molik mentioned.

Seventh-seeded Coco Gauff, who gained a match in Auckland final week, faces a tricky first-round take a look at towards Katerina Siniakova, who defeated her within the Billie Jean King Cup finals in November.

The potential ladies’s quarterfinals are: Swiatek vs. Gauff in what can be a rematch of final 12 months’s French Open closing, gained by Swiatek, and Pegula vs. No. 6 Maria Sakkari within the high half of the bracket; and Jabeur vs. No. 5 Aryna Sabalenka, and No. 4 Caroline Garcia vs. No. 8 Daria Kasatkina within the backside half.

One other large first-round match is two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka towards Sofia Kenin, who gained the title at Melbourne Park in 2020.

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