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Tennis • Australian Open Draw is Out • Raonic-Kyrgios, Wawrinka-Gulbis, Fed And Rafa In Same Half

Rafael Nadal of Spain in action during a training session at the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia, 10 January 2019. EPA-EFE/DANIEL POCKETT



By Ricky Dimon


The Australian Open draw ceremony was held on Thursday evening in Melbourne, where the year’s first major begins on Monday. A balanced bracket was revealed, although it notably features Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the same half.


Federer is aiming for a third consecutive Aussie Open title, which would mark No. 100 overall in his illustrious and GOAT-ish career. After triumphing last fall at the Swiss Indoors Basel, the world No. 3 had chances to reach the century mark at the Paris Masters and the Nitto ATP Finals. However, he fell to Novak Djokovic in a third-set tiebreaker in Paris and was upset by Alexander Zverev in London–both in semifinals.


“Ninety-nine is already an incredible number,” Federer said during the draw ceremony. “I’m so close; I’ll give it a go. Every tournament I go to people might talk about it. Again, I’m not trying to look too far ahead; but if I made 100 at the Australian I’d take it. I’d gladly accept it, and I’ll give it all I have.”


The 37-year-old Swiss should coast into the second week before things start getting tricky. He could run into Stefanos Tsitsipas in the fourth round prior to a possible rematch of last year’s final against Marin Cilic during quarterfinal action. Andy Murray is unseeded in Federer’s section of the draw and the veteran Scot has to face Doha champion Roberto Bautista Agut in the opening round.


Nadal is on a collision course for the last 32 with Australian up-and-comer Alex de Minaur, while that quarter of the bracket also includes two-time major runner-up Kevin Anderson and fellow big server John Isner.


Novak Djokovic will likely roll through the top half as a considerable favorite to capture his seventh Aussie Open title, but the story on that side is one especially intriguing quartet. The tournament’s most intriguing first-rounder pits Nick Kyrgios against Milos Raonic, with the winner of that showdown to meet the winner of Stan Wawrinka vs. Ernests Gulbis.


Kyrgios-Raonic with the victor to meet either Wawrinka or Gulbis. Seriously!?!? Wow, that is a tough, tough, tough portion of the bracket. Get your popcorn ready to watch how that plays out.


“Nick’s the most dangerous floater by far as he’s beaten all the top guys,” analyst Darren Cahill said during Thursday’s draw proceedings. “He’s coming into his home Grand Slam fresh, hungry, and no one will want to play him.”


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @TennGrand.

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