Rivals Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal were placed on opposite ends of the Australian Open draw in Thursday’s draw, so the holders of 43 Grand Slam singles titles between the two could only meet in the final at Melbourne Park.
Djokovic, a nine-time Australian champion, returns to the hardcourt tournament after missing last year when his visa was revoked and he was deported from the country because he was not vaccinated against COVID-19. He too was unable to compete at the 2022 US Open.
Djokovic, seeded 4th in the tournament, will begin his campaign for a 10th Australian title against Spain’s Roberto Carballes in the tournament that begins on Monday.
Iga Swiatek, the first seed in the women’s competition, will face the German Jule Niemieier in the first round, who is in 68th place in the standings. The Pole was a semifinalist at Melbourne Park in 2022, a year in which she won the Roland Garros and US Open tournaments.
But the most followed in the first round will be Nadal, who could find a challenge against the British Jack Draper. Draper, 21, was a semifinalist at the Next Gen Championships in November and will also play in the semifinals of the Adelaide International on Friday.
Another highlight of the opening round will pit five-time Australian finalist Andy Murray against Italian Matteo Berrettini, a former Wimbledon finalist and 13th-ranked.
Murray defeated Australia’s Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-3 in an exhibition match on Thursday and is pleased with his form.
Based on the standings, the possible quarterfinals would be Nadal against 7th seed Daniil Medvedev in a repeat of last year’s final which Nadal won, and number three Stefanos Tsitsipas against 6th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime. In the other half of the draw, Djokovic could meet No. 5 Andrey Rublev, and No. 2 Casper Ruud could play No. 8 Taylor Fritz.
Wimbledon finalist Nick Kyrgios, who faces Roman Safiullin in the first round, will play an exhibition match with Djokovic on Friday in Melbourne.
Ons Jabeur, who reached the Wimbledon and US Open finals in 2022, is the second seed and will play Tamara Zidansek.
Number three Jessica Pegula, who led the US team to win the mixed United Cup tournament in Sydney last week, will face Romanian Jacqueline Cristian in the first round.
7th seed Coco Gauff, who won a tournament in Auckland last week, will find a difficult opening match against Katerina Siniakova, who defeated her in the Billie Jean King Cup finals in November.
Possible women’s quarterfinals are: Swiatek vs. Gauff, a repeat of the Roland Garros final that Swiatek won last year, and Pegula vs. 6th-seeded Maria Sakkari in the top draw. On the other side, Jabeur could play No. 5 Aryna Sabalenka and No. 4 Caroline Garcia could face No. 8 Daria Kasatkina.
Another interesting first-round duel is that of two-time Australian champion Victoria Azarenka and Sofia Kenin, who won the title in Melbourne in 2020.