By: Gyang Dakwo
Defending Champion Rafael Nadal has been handed a tough draw for the 2023 Australian Open that gets underway on Monday (16th January). Novak Djokovic, his closest rival in the quest for most major titles, has been placed in the other half meaning they can only meet in the final.
With World No 1 Carlos Alcaraz missing due to injury, Nadal takes the top seed and starts against Britain’s promising Jack Draper. He then potentially has two tricky-looking opponents in Brandon Nakashima and Yoshihito Nishioka.
If the Spaniard does win all three matches, he could face World No 17 Frances Tiafoe. The American had sent Nadal packing in their Round of 16 clash at the US Open.
Nadal could then meet two-time Australian Open finalist Daniil Medvedev in the quarterfinals before prospective matches against Stefanos Tsitsipas and Djokovic.
In the other half, nine-time Australian Open winner Djokovic, returns to the hard-court tournament after missing it last year when his visa was revoked and he was deported from the country because he isn’t vaccinated against COVID-19.
Fourth seed Djokovic will open his bid for a 10th Australian Open title against Roberto Carballes Baena in the first round.
However, there is an injury cloud hanging over Djokovic after he tweaked his hamstring enroute winning the season-opening Adelaide International last week. He cut his practice match on Wednesday short to get more treatment.
The Serb has a relatively easier route than Nadal with potential matchups against Grigor Dimitrov in the third round, Holger Rune in the quarterfinals and Casper Ruud in the semi-finals.