Australian Open Draw: Analysis, The pathway to the finals
Men’s top seed Novak Djokovic plays fast-rising Hyeon Chung (winner of the ATP’s most improved player in 2015) and incorporates potential meetings with Quentin Halys, Andreas Seppi and Benoit Paire. Kei Nishikori is a likely quarterfinalist before the match that already has us talking – a semifinal against Roger Federer.
Andy Murray starts against big-serving German Alexander Zverev (the Australian Open 2014 boys’ titlist) before a potential second-round encounter with Sam Groth. With three Aussies in his quarter, Murray could face Bernard Tomic in the fourth round and either David Ferrer or Feliciano Lopez in the quarterfinals. One of two former champions, Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka, could be his semifinal opponent.
The most headline-grabbing element of Roger Federer’s draw is that the No.3 seed falls in the same half as Djokovic. A potential 45th career meeting at Australian Open 2016 would therefore occur in the semifinals. Before that, Federer faces Nikoloz Basilashvili in the first round, would likely need to navigate Alexandr Dolgopolov in the second and the similarly stylish Grigor Dimitrov in the third. If seeds hold, he’d face David Goffin in the fourth round. Tomas Berdych, Marin Cilic and Nick Kyrgios are potential quarterfinal opponents.
Stan Wawrinka’s path to a second Australian Open title starts against Dmitry Tursunov and incorporates a qualifier in round two. A round three meeting for the fourth seed with Jack Sock, the No.21 seed, would be a must-watch, pitting arguably the best backhand in the men’s game against one of the best forehands. Milos Raonic is a potential fourth-round opponent, while Rafael Nadal could await in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal against Murray.
A tough start for our No.5 seed Rafael Nadal, who faces Fernando Verdasco in the first round (remember their Australian Open 2009 semifinal epic?) A win over his countryman would provide confidence for potential meetings with Benjamin Becker, Jeremy Chardy, Kevin Anderson and Wawrinka before a possible semifinal against Murray.
Serena Williams has a tough first-round assignment, with the top seed drawn against Camila Giorgi, the highest-ranked woman outside the seedings. Jelena Ostapenko could follow before a third round against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. If the seeds hold, she’d face close friend Caroline Wozniacki in the fourth round andMaria Sharapova in the quarters. Agnieszka Radwanska and Petra Kvitova are potential semifinal opponents.
Women’s draw: Serena’s search for seven
No.2 seed Simona Halep opens against a qualifier before a possible second-round meeting with Alize Cornet. Lesia Tsurenko, Madison Keys and Ana Ivanovic are among possible opponents before a potential quarterfinal against Venus Williamsor Karolina Pliskova and a semifinal against No.3 seed, Garbine Muguruza.
Click here to see the full women’s singles draw for Australian Open 2016
Third seed Garbine Muguruza begins against Anett Kontaveit and likely takes onKirsten Flipkens or Mirjana Lucic-Baroni before a third-round clash against highly-credentialled Caroline Garcia. Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka is a potential fourth-round opponent, while Angelique Kerber looms as a quarterfinal match-up before a possible semifinal against Halep.
Agnieszka Radwanska, the No.4 seed, opens against Christina McHale before a potential second-round meeting with former AO semifinalist Eugenie Bouchard.Sam Stosur could be her third-round opponent and Roberta Vinci potentially awaits in the fourth. The most obvious quarterfinal opponent is Petra Kvitova, andSerena Williams is a likely semifinal foe.
The early rounds seem straightforward for No.5 seed Maria Sharapova, who first faces Nao Hibino and could then meet Yanina Wickmayer or Magdalena Rybarikova. It gets tougher from there, with Belinda Bencic a possible fourth round opponent and Serena Williams the quarterfinalist. If she survives those tests, Sharapova could face Agnieszka Radwanska or Petra Kvitova in the semis.