Melbourne, Thursday @peoplesport11
Roger Federer will open his title defence against Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene and has a potential quarter-final with David Goffin in the Australian Open. In Thursday’s draw, 36-year-old Federer, bidding for a record 20th Grand Slam title, has a first round encounter with the 51st-ranked Bedene.
The Swiss marvel, chasing a sixth Australian Open crown, could also face big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic in the fourth round in the bottom half of the men’s draw.
World number one and top seed Rafael Nadal starts his Australian campaign against the 83rd-ranked Victor Estrella Burgos of the Dominican Republic in the top quarter of the draw.
Nadal withdrew from his first tour event of 2018, in Brisbane, with continuing knee problems, and has been getting in match practice in a Melbourne exhibition event this week ahead of Monday’s start to the Open.
Nadal could face world number six Marin Cilic of Croatia in the quarter-finals. Six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, seeded 14th for this year’s tournament, has a couple of potential early obstacles with American Donald Young and potentially mercurial Frenchman Gael Monfils in the second round.
Twelve-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic has been sidelined since Wimbledon in July because of a right elbow injury, but beat world number five Dominic Thiem in straight sets in the Kooyong Classic this week.
Thiem is projected to face rising young German star Alexander Zverev in the quarters of Djokovic’s section of the draw. Former Australian winner Stan Wawrinka, who hasn’t played since Wimbledon after knee surgery, is the same section of the draw and faces Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis first up.
World number three Grigor Dimitrov faces a qualifier first up and could face American Jack Sock in the quarters. Tempestuous Australian 17th seed Nick Kyrgios, is in the same section of the draw and faces Brazil’s 100th-ranked Rogerio Dutra Silva.
Meanwhile, Romania’s world No1 Simona Halep will face Australian wild card Destanee Aiava as her first round opponent at the Australian Open, while Thursday’s draw could also see her go up against Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-finals.
Halep, who has been beaten in the first round four times in Melbourne, must first overcome Aiava if she is to realise her dream of going on to win a first Grand Slam title. -AFP