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Ricky’s Preview and Picks for Day 1 at the Australian Open: Berrettini vs. Nakashima and Norrie vs. Korda

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – SEPTEMBER 24: Matteo Berrettini of Team Europe reacts during his match against Felix Auger-Aliassime of Team World during Day 1 of the 2021 Laver Cup at TD Garden on September 24, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images for Laver Cup)

By Ricky Dimon

The Australian Open begins on Monday, when Matteo Berrettini and Cameron Norrie are among the seeds who are taking the court. Berrettini is going up against Brandon Nakashima, while Norrie is facing Sebastian Korda. 

Here are my previews and picks for two of the best matchups.

Brandon Nakashima vs. (7) Matteo Berrettini

Berrettini was an absolute force at Grand Slams last year, which is the main reason why he made a second appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals (although he was forced out by an injury in his first match). The seventh-ranked Italian reached the quarterfinals of the French Open and U.S. Open while finishing runner-up to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon. In fact, Berrettini did not lose a single slam match to anyone other than Djokovic; he was 0-3 against the world No. 1 and 16-0 against everyone else.

That is obviously bad news for Nakashima heading into round one of the Australian Open on Monday. But the 20-year-old American can make this competitive. He is already up to 68th in the rankings thanks in part to back-to-back ATP finals last summer in Los Cabos and Atlanta, and he picked up a second Grand Slam victory at the U.S. Open over John Isner. This should be one of the more fun matchups of the entire first round, but Berrettini’s slam experience and superior firepower with his serve and forehand will likely allow him to take care of business.

Pick: Berrettini in 4

(12) Cameron Norrie vs. Sebastian Korda
Norrie and Korda will be going head-to-head for the second time in their careers on Monday. Their only previous encounter came early last season on the hard courts of Delray Beach, where Korda prevailed 6-3, 7-5. Both guys went on to produce stellar 2022 campaigns–especially Norrie. The British left-hander soared to No. 12 in the world and even made a debut appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals as an alternate. But a proverbial “sophomore slump” could be in the cards. Norrie went 0-3 at the ATP Cup last week, losing to Alexander Zverev, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Taylor Fritz while winning just one set in the process.

Obviously those are formidable opponents–but so is Korda. The 21-year-old American compiled a 31-18 record on the main tour in 2021, including his first ATP title in Parma plus a runner-up finish in Delray Beach. Korda has not yet played this season, but he is well-rested and still should have plenty of momentum from ending last year with a runner-up performance at the NextGen ATP Finals. This is Korda’s match to win or lose, as he wields far more firepower than Norrie. I think he will be able to deliver.

Pick: Korda in 4

Sebastian Korda of the USA reacts after winning against Brandon Nakashima of the USA in the semi final of the Next Gen Atp Finals in Milan, Italy, 12 November 2021. EPA-EFE/MATTEO BAZZI

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