Federer, Nadal, Murray in same half at Australian Open
Originally published on 15/01/15
The No.2 seed, who reached 1000 match wins when he won the Brisbane International last week, will meet Lu Yen-Hsun in his first-round match, with a potential third-round clash with No.29 seed Jeremy Chardy or talented youngster Borna Coric.
In a repeat of last year's draw, Federer could play Murray in the quarter-finals before taking on Nadal in the last four. World No.3 Nadal will meet Mikhail Youzhny in the first round, with Tomas Berdych a possible quarter-final opponent.
Murray will face Indian qualifier Yuki Bhambri, ranked No.314 in the world in his opening match. Should he Murray successfully navigate his way through the first week (he may meet Marinko Matosevic in the second round who he beat in straight sets at the Hopman Cup last week) Grigor Dimitrov could in the fourth round. The Bulgarian upset defending champion Murray at Wimbledon last year, but Murray leads the head-to-head 4-2 and won their most recent encounter in Paris in November. Dimitrov faces a tricky opening match against Germany’s Dustin Brown in what promises to be an entertaining first-round encounter.
In the other half of the draw, world No.1 and four-time champion Djokovic will face Slovenian qualifier Aljaz Bedene in the first round, with a potential quarter-final against Milos Raonic awaiting.
Defending champion Stan Wawrinka opens his title defence against Turkey’s Marsel Ilhan, and could face Japanese fifth seed Kei Nishikori in the last eight, although the US Open runner-up could meet David Ferrer in what could well be a tight encounter in the fourth round – their last four matches have gone to a deciding set.
Nishikori meets former world No.9 Nicolas Almagro in his opener, while other notable first-round match-ups include No.11 seed Ernests Gulbis against Australian wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis, and former US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro against Jerzy Janowicz.
In the women’s draw, world No.1 Serena Williams takes on Alison van Uytvanck in the first round, while in the other half of the draw, second seed Maria Sharapova will meet a qualifier.
Li Na, the 2014 champion who retired towards the end of last season, returned to Melbourne to perform the draw, pulled out arguably the most interesting tie of the first round – two-time champion Victoria Azarenka against Sloane Stephens. The Belarusian was seeded No.2 here last year but has slipped outside the top 40 after playing just seven tournaments since losing in the quarter-finals to Agnieszka Radwanska in Melbourne.
After an injury-laden 2014, Azarenka returned to action in Brisbane last week (she lost in the first round) but will hope to find a return to form in Melbourne, where she first won the title in 2012 and claimed the world No.1 ranking for the first time. Her first-round clash against Stephens will be a rematch of her semi-final win against the American in 2013, with the winner potentially meeting No.8 seed Caroline Wozniacki in the second round.
Interestingly, Garbine Muguruza and Alize Cornet, who were both responsible for upsetting Williams in Grand Slams last year – Muguruza at Roland Garros and Cornet at Wimbledon, have both been drawn in the same quarter as the top seed. Muguruza, seeded No.24 takes on New Zealand’s Marina Erakovic in the first round, while Cornet meets Zhang Shuai.