You would hope that at your own nation’s Grand Slam the draw would cut some slack for the local players but there were no favours for the Australian brigade at the year’s first Grand Slam championship, the Australian Open.
The Australian players have started the year pretty well with the summer of tennis down under, but what was hoped to be the “Australian Assault” at Rod Laver Arena, is turning out to be the “Assaulted Australians”. In my mind this is the most brutal start for home grown players at any Grand Slam event for a very, very long time.
Australians are playing the No.1 seeds in the respective singles, a legacy of the players not being ranked high enough to get even one of the minor seedings … and some protection.
Overall there are 15 Australians and seven of them will face seeds.
Bernard Tomic made the third round at Melbourne Park last year but now he has to play Rafa Nadal in the opening round. His ranking of 52 is likely to take a hit. Ashleigh Barty, a tenacious, developing talent and only 17 years old, was drawn to play Serena Williams who is on fire with her tennis.
The hierarchy at Tennis Australia were scratching their heads as the draw unfolded, wondering what on earth they had done to deserve things the way they panned out.
Thanasi Kokkinakas is a rising talent and if he wins his first round he will play the winner of Nadal or Tomic. Lleyton Hewitt, just a couple of weeks short of his 33rd birthday meets the 24th seed Andreas Seppi – their head-to-head is 3-3. Many locals would favour Hewitt but its likely to be a drawn out battle.
James Duckworth will be contending with Roger Federer and Marinko Matosevic has to play Kei Nishikori the 16th seed … and so it went in the men’s while in the women’s after Barty there was Jarmila Gajdosova facing the ninth seed Angie Kerber, Sam Stosur the only Aussie seeded at 17, meets Klara Zakopolova who she faced in the Hobart semis just before.
In the bigger picture, if the seedings work out the quarterfinal line-up in the women’s will be Serena against Sara Errani, Li Na, last year’s finalist against Petra Kvitova, Maria Sharapova would face Jelena Jankovic and titleholder Vika Azarenka would meet Aga Radwanska.
While in the men’s Nadal would meet Juan Martin Del Potro – Nadal is only gaining ranking points as he didn’t play last year, which will allow him to stay at the top of the rankings. Andy Murray will clash with Federer, Tomas Berdych is seeded to meet David Ferrer and Novak Djokovic, the defending champion would face Stan Wawrinka – what a match they had last year at the Open.
But we all know seedings, more often than not, don’t hold up but it appears that the men’s draw is more top heavy while the women’s seems reasonably even.
The next couple of weeks promise to be highly entertaining, and while much of the northern hemisphere feels as if they are freezing over with vortexes and what not, Melbourne is being forecasted to have temperatures hovering in the mid to high 30’s Celsius.