Scouting report: Djokovic chasing 10th Australian Open Crown, can Nadal and co stop him? | TBEN | Tennis

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After an exciting start to the 2023 season, in which Team United States won the inaugural United Cup, the best players in the world will now travel to Melbourne for the Australian Open.

ATPTour.com looks at 10 things to watch ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year.

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1) Reigning champion Nadal: A year ago, Rafael Nadal captured his second Australian Open title when he rallied from two sets to love to defeat Daniil Medvedev in an epic final. The top-seeded Spaniard returns to Melbourne this week with the goal of a record-extending 23rd Grand Slam singles title.

After starting the season with defeats to Britain’s Cameron Norrie and Australia’s Alex de Minaur at the United Cup, the world number 2 will aim to earn his first win of the season when he defeats #NextGenATP Briton Jack Draper plays in a difficult opening game. .

2) Djokovic Imperious in Australia: Novak Djokovic hasn’t lost on Australian soil since 2018, when he lost to Hyeon Chung in the fourth round of the first major of the year. Chasing a record-extending 10th Australian Open title and record-tying 22nd Grand Slam, the Serb arrives at the event in strong form, having won his 92nd Tour title at an ATP 250 in Adelaide last week. The fourth seed, who faces Nadal in the other half of the draw, opens against Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena.

3) Battle for World No. 1: Djokovic, Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas all start their campaigns knowing they will become the new number 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings by collecting the trophy in Melbourne. World number 3 Ruud can also claim first place by reaching the final, as long as neither Djokovic nor Tsitsipas win the title. If none of these scenarios materialize, the reign of current world number 1 Carlos Alcaraz, who will not play in Melbourne due to injury, will continue.

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Ruud, who reached Grand Slam finals at Roland Garros and the US Open last year, will reach the fourth round in Melbourne in 2021. Tsitsipas is a three-time semifinalist at the major, with a 15-5 record.

4) Can Medvedev go one step further? Daniil Medvedev hopes he gets lucky for a third time when he goes to court in Melbourne. The 26-year-old has done his best at the major in recent years, falling in the finals to Djokovic in 2021 and Nadal in 2022. After reaching the semifinals in Adelaide last week, Medvedev will aim to build on that streak . at the Australian Open and clinched his second Grand Slam singles title. On the 2021 US Open title list, American Marcos Giron will play in the first round.

5) Fritz & Norrie in shape: Taylor Fritz and Cameron Norrie arrive in Melbourne in glowing shape. Eighth-seeded Fritz has a 4-1 record on the season and has led Team United States to the United Cup title in Sydney. The 11th seed Norrie, who defeated Fritz at the United Cup, is 6-1 in 2023 and reached the final in Auckland.

While neither have progressed beyond the fourth round in Melbourne, confidence will be high that they can enjoy some deep runs over the next two weeks. Fritz plays Nikoloz Basilashvili in the first round and Norrie takes on #NextGenATP Frenchman Luca Van Assche.

6) Kyrgios Leads Home Hope: 19th seed Nick Kyrgios had an impressive 2022, reaching his first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon and winning a tour-level crown in Washington. The 27-year-old’s best result in nine previous main draws at the Australian Open” title=”https://www.atptour.com/en/tournaments/australian-open/580/overview” href=”https://www.atptour.com/en/tournaments/australian-open/580 /overview” rel=”noopener noreferrer” target=”_blank” tabindex=”-1″ class=”fui-Link ___m14voj0 f3rmtva f1ern45e f1deefiw f1n71otn f1q5o8ev f1h8hb77 f1vxd6vx f1ewtqcl fyind8e f1k6fduh f1w7gpdv fk6fouc fjoy568 figsok6 f1hu3pq6 f11qmguv f19f4twv f1tyq0we f1g0x7ka fhxju0i f1qch9an f1cnd47f fqv5qza f1vmzxwi f1o700av f13mvf36 f9n3di6 f1ids18y fygtlnl f1deo86v f12x56k7 f1iescvh ftqa4ok f50u1b5 fs3pq8b f1hghxdh f1tymzes f1x7u7e9 f1cmlufx f10aw75t fsle3fq” style2; achtergrondkleur: #ffffff; marge: 0px; opvulling: 0px; border-bottom-kleur: transparant; border-style: geen;”> Australian Open came in 2015, when he reached the quarterfinals. He will aim to improve that streak this year, starting against Roman Safiullin. There are 11 Australian men in the draw, with Alex de Minaur, the 22nd seed, in the same half as Kyrgios.

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7) Top 10 threats: Andrey Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Hubert Hurkacz will all aim to win their first Grand Slam titles at the Australian Open this week. Fifth-seeded Rublev reached the quarter-finals in 2021 but has a tough opening assignment against 2020 finalist Dominic Thiem. The sixth-seeded Auger-Aliassime had a career-best season last year, winning four trophies at tour level. He will aim for a fast start in 2023 when he plays compatriot Vasek Pospisil.

Tenth-seeded Hurkacz, who has two wins in the United Cup for Team Poland, has never progressed past the second round in four previous Melbourne appearances. The 25-year-old starts against Pedro Martinez.

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8) First Round Popcorn Fights: Fans will be treated to a host of blockbuster first-round matches at Melbourne Park, with Matteo Berrettini’s clash against former world No. 1 Andy Murray as the highlight. Five-time finalist Murray will seek Grand Slam revenge against the 13th-seeded Italian after losing to Berrettini at the US Open in September.

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Rublev will take a 4-2 ATP Head2Head series lead in his first round match against Thiem, while Nadal will have to be at his best if he wants to beat British lefty Draper at Rod Laver Arena. Home favorite Thanasi Kokkinakis will try to extend his perfect 2-0 record in his duel with Fabio Fognini.

2022 Next Gen ATP Finals runner-up Jiri Lehecka will look to build on his win against the returning Alexander Zverev in the United Cup when he takes on 21st seed Borna Coric.

9) #NextGenATP stars in action: Holger Rune is one of the brightest up and coming talents in the game, it turns out through his title run at the Rolex Paris Masters in November. The 19-year-old is seeded ninth and will play against Filip Krajinovic in his opening match.

17th-seeded Italian Lorenzo Musetti, who won two tour titles last season, plays Lloyd Harris, while 17-year-old Chinese qualifier Juncheng Shang takes on Germany’s Oscar Otte. American Ben Shelton stormed into the Tour when he reached the third round in Cincinnati last season. The 20-year-old will meet Zhizhen Zhang in his opening match.

10) Koolhof/Skupski Leadership double field: Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski won seven tour-level titles as a team in 2022 and will look to increase their prize pool as they top the doubles as the top seeds.

The Dutch-British tandem faces stiff competition from 2020 champions Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, third seed Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer and fourth seed Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic.

Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios rose to the title in 2022, enjoying a fairytale run on home soil. The Australians will team up again this year in Melbourne.