Australian Open draw: Novak Djokovic avoids Rafael Nadal as Spaniard faces tough opener | Tennis | Sport


Jack Draper will face defending champion and No.1 seed Rafa Nadal in the first round of the Australian Open. And Andy Murray will take on former Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini in a tough draw for the Brits Down Under. Emma Raducanu, who is in a race against time to recover from an ankle injury, will probably face Coco Gauff if she wins her opening match against world No.74 Tamara Korpatsch.

Left-hander Draper raced up the rankings last year and took a set off Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon before beating No.6 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime at the US Open. He reached his second ATP semi-final today by beating Karen Khachanov 6-4 7-6 at the Adelaide International 2.

Nadal won the title here last year and claimed his male record 22 Grand Slam singles title at the French Open.

But the Spaniard, who pulled out of his Wimbledon semi-final with an abdominal strain, is currently in the worst run of his career with one win in his last seven matches. He lost both his matches at the recent United Cup in Sydney, including to British No.1 Cam Norrie.

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Former Aussie pro Alicia Molik said: “I don’t think it is such a bad draw to face him early in the draw. He has not had as many matches as he would like.”
Speaking on Channel 9 during the event, Jim Courier said the Spaniard’s service action suggested he still wasn’t fit. “He’s far more limited it seems,” said the double Australian Open champion.

Draper said: ‘It will be amazing to play on a big court against him, he is a great champion. There are a lot of emotions, thinking about playing him, but I have to still got to do well in this week’s tournament. Whatever happens it will be a special occasion for me, still very young in my career, so it’s great to have these sort of experiences and exposure to playing Rafa on a big arena. I’ll just be trying to play well and do the best that I can.’

Murray beat Alex De Minaur at the Kooyong Classic today but the world No.49 lost to the big-serving Berrettini in four sets at the US Open. Norrie has a better first round draw against French teenage wildcard Luca Van Assohe who is ranked world No.142 and will be making his Grand Slam debut. No.25 seed Dan Evans will face Argentine world No.90 Facundo Bagnis. It is the first time there are five British men in the main draw here since 1988.

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Nine-time champion Novak Djokovic will play his comeback match at the Australian Open against Spanish world No.75 Roberto Caraballes Baena on the other side of the draw from Nadal.

Wimbledon finalist and No.19 seed Nick Kyrgios will face Roman Safullin in the first round but has No.9 seed Holger Rune and then world No.6 Andrey Rublev in his path to reach the quarter finals.

Raducanu suffered from blisters before going out in the second round here last year. And the former US Open champion will need to overcome an ankle injury, German Korpatsch and then world No.7 Gauff to reach the third round this year. The American teenager is in good form after winning the title in Auckland last week.

Harriet Dart will face No.32 seed Jil Teichman of Switzerland.



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