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Australian Open Tennis Men’s Singles Draw: Djokovic on Collision Courses with Wawrinka and Thiem

Novak Djokovic of Serbia in action during the ATP Cup tennis tournament match against Alexander Zverev of Germany at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, 05 February 2021. EPA-EFE/DEAN LEWINS

By Ricky Dimon

The Australian Open draw ceremony was held on Friday afternoon in Melbourne, albeit slightly later than expected because of the recent Covid-19 issues that halted play at the Melbourne Summer Series on Thursday.

It was worth the wait.

The men’s singles festivities resulted in a balanced enough draw that should provide intrigue from start to finish. When it comes to the start, there are whole host of entertaining first-round matchups. The cream of the crop is undoubtedly Denis Shapovalov vs. Jannik Sinner, while others to note are Pablo Carreno Busta vs. Kei Nishikori, Grigor Dimitrov vs. Marin Cilic, and. Matteo Berrettini vs. Kevin Anderson.

Shapovalov won’t like the rest of his draw even if he does manage to scrape past Sinner. The 21-year-old Canadian is on a collision course for round three with countryman and best friend Felix Auger-Aliassime.

For world No. 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic, his headline-making matches will likely come later in the fortnight. But early and often he could go up against opponents with whom he is incredibly familiar. Up first for Djokovic is Jeremy Chardy, who has gotten 13 shots at the eight-time Aussie Open champion throughout his career and has won a grand total of zero times. Following potential second and third-round encounters with Americans Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz, respectively, Djokovic may see Stan Wawrinka on the other side of the net. From 2013 through 2015, Djokovic and Wawrinka played three Australian Open five-setters against each other (the Serb took two of three). Two were absolute instant classics (they split that pair). It doesn’t end there for Djokovic. His projected quarterfinal opponent is Alexander Zverev. The 33-year-old just beat Zverev at the ATP Cup on Friday, but Germany won the overall tie to knock out the defending champs and earn a semifinal spot. In the Aussie semis, there could be a rematch of last season’s final between Djokovic and Dominic Thiem–won by the favorite in five sets. However, Thiem is a respectable 5-7 lifetime in the head-to-head series and has won epic thrillers at Djokovic’s expense in each of the last two Nitto ATP Finals installments.

Dominic Thiem of Austria in action against Rafael Nadal of Spain during the ‘A Day at the Drive’ tennis event at Memorial Drive Tennis Centre in Adelaide, Australia, 29 January 2021. EPA-EFE/KELLY BARNES

In addition to Djokovic vs. Zverev, the other projected quarterfinal matchups are Thiem vs. Diego Schwartzman, Daniil Medvedev vs. Andrey Rublev, and Rafael Nadal vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas. The semifinals according to seeds would be Djokovic vs. Thiem and Nadal vs. Medvedev.Nadal will kick off his quest for a second Australian Open title when he grapples with Laslo Djere on Monday. One of two qualifiers would follow–either Viktor Troicki or Michael Mmoh. Dan Evans is the second-ranked Spaniard’s nearest seed, while Fabio Fognini and Alex de Minaur are potential fourth-round opponents for Nadal.

Check out the full men’s singles draw at the AO website.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.