The Australian Open draw was released on Thursday afternoon in Melbourne. ATPTour.com looks at five of the blockbuster first-round showdowns you should watch.
No. 21 Nikoloz Basilashvili vs. Andy Murray
Former World No. 1 Andy Murray just defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-7(4), 7-6(3), 6-3 in three hours and 13 minutes two days ago at the Sydney Tennis Classic. It will not take long for Basilashvili to get a shot at revenge.
The big-hitting Georgian will try to earn his first win against Murray in Melbourne, where the Scot is a five-time finalist. Murray leads their ATP Head2Head 2-0, having also triumphed in four sets against Basilashvili at Wimbledon last year.
“Certainly it’s a tough, tough draw. Last night’s match was brutal, so I would expect another difficult one. Conditions in Melbourne are different to here,” Murray said. “There potentially it’s going to be hotter, a little bit livelier, ball bouncing a little bit higher. So it will be a different match because [it is a] different city, different conditions, different court and stuff.
“Just because I won against him yesterday doesn’t mean I get a free pass into the second round. I need to go out and play another top match to win against him in Melbourne.”
No. 7 Matteo Berrettini vs. Brandon Nakashima
One of the most intriguing first-round clashes in Melbourne is a first-time meeting between two of the purest ball-strikers on Tour. The tennis balls will certainly take a beating when Italian star Matteo Berrettini faces 2021 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals competitor Brandon Nakashima.
Berrettini had a big year at the majors in 2021, advancing to at least the fourth round at all four and making his first major final at Wimbledon. But Nakashima is a fearless player who if allowed to control points will jump on the opportunity. The American earned wins against Alex de Minaur, John Isner, Milos Raonic and Daniel Evans among others last year, and defeated Fabio Fognini this week in Sydney.
Will Nakashima add Berrettini to his list of conquered opponents Down Under?
Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
No. 12 Cameron Norrie vs. Sebastian Korda
When Cameron Norrie and Sebastian Korda met in the Delray Beach semi-finals at the start of 2021, neither man was in the Top 70 of the ATP Rankings. Now they are both in the Top 40 and set to clash for a spot in the second round of the Australian Open.
Korda won their match in Delray Beach in straight sets to advance to his maiden ATP Tour final, and that was just the beginning of a breakout season that saw him earn a spot in Milan, where he made the championship match (l. to Alcaraz). It was an even better year for Norrie, who claimed his first tour-level title in Los Cabos, his maiden ATP Masters 1000 trophy at Indian Wells and an alternate spot at the Nitto ATP Finals, where he played two matches.
Norrie wears his opponents down with his physicality and speed at the back of the court, while Korda takes it to his opponents. The Brit will give his younger opponent time to get on top of points, but will Korda be able to take advantage?
No. 23 Reilly Opelka vs. Kevin Anderson
The first time Reilly Opelka and Kevin Anderson met was in Atlanta in 2016. Opelka was just 18 at the time, while Anderson was a well-established force on the ATP Tour who would later make two major finals. The teen American triumphed in three sets to reach his first ATP Tour quarter-final.
Six years later, this will be just their second clash. This time, however, the roles are reversed, and Opelka will be the favourite.
Anderson is still working his way back from injury, which has him at No. 101 in the ATP Rankings. The South African has shown flashes of his best tennis, winning his seventh ATP Tour title last year in Newport. But he has lacked the consistency that once helped him to a career-high World No. 5.
Opelka, however, has proven himself one of the most dangerous players on Tour with his devastating serve and ever-improving baseline game. The American is into the semi-finals this week in Sydney, where he will play Murray for a place in the final.
Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images
No. 32 Alex de Minaur vs. Lorenzo Musetti
Alex de Minaur loves competing on home soil in Australia, and Lorenzo Musetti enjoys the big stage. That should make for a fun opening-round clash in Melbourne between two of the sport’s rising stars.
De Minaur began his 2022 well with two wins at the ATP Cup against Berrettini and Ugo Humbert, respectively. But he will have to be at his best against Musetti, one of the craftiest young players on Tour.
Although the 19-year-old has struggled for his best form since his hot start to 2021, he has plenty of tools in his arsenal to make for a tricky match. The 2021 Milan competitor has plenty of variety with his one-handed backhand, and he uses many spins and shot speeds to trouble his opponents. Will that be enough to upset the home favourite?
Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
(this story/news/article has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed)