Australian Open 2024: Popcorn matches from the men’s singles draw
The Australian Open men’s singles draw has been released, and it features some mouth-watering matches in the first round!
We, at Tennishead, have listed five that we think you should keep an eye out for:
Stefanos Tsitsipas (7) vs Matteo Berrettini
Perhaps the standout draw from the first round is between last year’s runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas and former world No.6 Matteo Berrettini.
It has been a tricky past few years for Berrettini, who has struggled with injury and as a result has fallen to his lowest ranking since 2018 (No.125).
Things have not been so plain-sailing for Stefanos Tsitsipas either, who has been suffering with a back injury that forced him to pull withdraw from the ATP Finals mid-tournament.
Berrettini and Tsitsipas took to Rod Laver Arena for some practice in Melbourne ???? pic.twitter.com/f2cfRWwM4x
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) January 8, 2024
As mentioned, Tsitsipas reached the final for the first time in Melbourne last year, with Berrettini’s best result at the tournament coming in 2022 when he reached the semi-final.
Their head-to-head is slightly one sided, with Tsitsipas winning all three of their previous meetings that include an Australian Open first round match from five years ago.
Hopefully both are feeling fit enough to provide some of the tennis that they have shown in the past, as on paper this looks to be an incredible first round contest.
Tennishead’s Prediction: Stefanos Tsitsipas to win in straight sets.
Felix Auger-Aliassime (27) vs Dominic Thiem
There is a similar theme to this next match, as two former top 10 players go head-to-head with something to prove at the start of the 2024 season.
Dominic Thiem only just made it into the main draw of the tournament, with the Austrian needing one withdrawal to avoid having to play qualifying.
His opponent Felix Auger-Aliassime has been having knee problems, that restricted him to a single doubles match at the United Cup, with the Canadian losing his first singles match of the season against Daniel Altmaier in Auckland.
Thiem is a former finalist at the Melbourne major, but has not shown that sort of form since becoming a Grand Slam champion at the 2020 US Open.
Auger-Aliassime’s best result came in 2022, when he reached the the quarter-final before losing a five set thriller to eventual runner-up Daniil Medvedev.
This will only be the second time that these two have played an official match against each other, with Thiem beating Auger-Aliassime en route to his aforementioned US Open win.
Tennishead’s Prediction: Dominic Thiem to win in four sets.
Adrian Mannarino (20) vs Stan Wawrinka
Adrian Mannarino appears to have gone under the radar over the past year, with the 35-year-old climbing inside the top 20 for the first time in his career.
The Frenchman will play a fellow tour veteran in the first round of the Australian Open, as he is set to go toe-to-toe with former champion Stan Wawrinka.
Wawrinka has not played a match on the ATP Tour so far this year, with the Swiss also withdrawing from an exhibition against Zhizhen Zhang at the Kooyong Classic.
Mannarino has significantly less pedigree at the tournament, having reached the fourth round only once in his 14 appearances in Melbourne.
However, the seeded player does have the advantage over Wawrinka in the head-to-head, having beaten the former world No.3 on both previous occasions they have played.
Tennishead’s prediction: Adrian Mannarino to win in four sets.
Carlos Alcaraz (2) vs Richard Gasquet
It will be a battle of next-gen vs tour veteran when Carlos Alcaraz plays Richard Gasquet, as he attempts to return to the Australian Open with a bang.
Alcaraz elected to skip playing any warm-up tournaments this year, but has taken part in some exhibition matches in the build-up to the Australian Open.
It will be only Alcaraz’s third appearance at the Melbourne major, with the Spaniard missing last year through injury and only has a best result of reaching the third round.
— Carlos Alcaraz (@carlosalcaraz) January 9, 2024
On the completely opposite side of the coin, Gasquet will be making his 17th appearance at the Australian Open this year.
While the 37-year-old has made the trip down under many times, the former top 10 player’s best result is reaching the fourth round (2007, 2008, 2012 & 2013).
Gasquet is also dealing with the blow of his historic 956-week stint in the top 100 coming to an end, with the Frenchman set to fall out of the elite group when the rankings are updated on Monday.
This will be the second career meeting between Alcaraz and Gasquet, with the former winning their only previous match in the Umag final over two years ago.
Tennishead’s prediction: Carlos Alcaraz to win in straight sets.
Alex de Minaur (10) vs Milos Raonic
It has been a sensational start to the season for Alex de Minaur, who appears to be embracing his home country more than ever after bringing an end to Novak Djokovic’s 43-match winning streak down under.
This has resulted in the Aussie moving inside the ATP top 10 for the first time in his career, as he looks to improve on his best previous performance at his home major of reaching the fourth round.
It is unlikely to be plain-sailing for De Minaur however, as he has been drawn against the big serving Canadian Milos Raonic.
The 33-year-old is certainly in the twilight of his career, having played only nine matches last year and has openly admitted that he will probably not be playing for much longer.
That being said, with that huge serve firing it can cause issues for anybody and did so last year with Raonic picking up victories over the likes of Frances Tiafoe and Ugo Humbert.
This first round match will be a second time meeting between the pair, with De Minaur beating Raonic in Brisbane back in 2018.
Tennishead’s prediction: Alex de Minaur to win in four sets.
Although we have restricted this list to just five matches, we didn’t want to forget some of the other intriguing contests:
- Frances Tiafoe (17) vs Borna Coric
- Ben Shelton (16) vs Roberto Bautista Agut
- Jannik Sinner (4) vs Botic Van de Zandschulp
- Tomas Martin Etcheverry (30) vs Andy Murray
- Holger Rune (8) vs Yoshihito Nishioka
- Dan Evans vs Lorenzo Sonego
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