Djokovic drawn against Serbian, Barty faces qualifier first-up

In another twist, if two or more of the top eight seeds withdrew more than 48 hours before the Australian Open starts, organisers can choose to either remake the draw or let it stand.

There were mixed results for the Australian contingent, currently standing at 10 men and eight women.

Ash Barty smiles during her practice session at Melbourne Park on Thursday.Credit:Getty Images

While both Barty and Kyrgios have the fortune of meeting qualifiers first-up, it could get very difficult very quickly for Canberran Kyrgios with a potential clash against world No. 2 and US Open champion Daniil Medvedev looming in the next round.

Further, Ajla Tomljanovic has a daunting assignment against the much-improved Spaniard Paula Badosa, who has shot into the top 10 after a strong finish to 2021, including a berth at the season-ending WTA Finals.

Australia’s top-ranked man, Alex de Minaur – who snuck into the seedings in 32nd spot – confronts Italian Lorenz Musetti.

It will be a battle of two tour veterans when Queenslander John Millman takes on Spain’s Feliciano Lopez. Similarly, the greatly improved James Duckworth – who represented Australia at the ATP Cup but not at the Davis Cup – is drawn against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.

Wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis, on a hot streak and free from injury, meets a qualifier but world No.2 Rafael Nadal could be his second-round opponent.

Naomi Osaka could be a fourth-round rival for Ash Barty.

Naomi Osaka could be a fourth-round rival for Ash Barty.Credit:Getty Images

In the women’s draw, veteran Samantha Stosur, playing her 20th and final singles campaign at Melbourne Park, is drawn against another wildcard, American Robin Anderson.

The news was not promising for Barty’s frequent doubles partner, Storm Sanders, after the Queenslander was dealt an opening match-up against world No.2 Aryna Sabalenka.

Daria Saville (née Gavrilova) plays Swede Rebecca Peterson.

While the official draws, originally set for 3pm but moved to 4.15pm after what were explained as technical issues, were somewhat overshadowed by ongoing conjecture over Djokovic, some notable match-ups emerged.

Andy Murray is all concentration against David Goffin of Belgium at the Sydney Tennis Classic on Thursday.

Andy Murray is all concentration against David Goffin of Belgium at the Sydney Tennis Classic on Thursday.Credit:Getty Images

Three-time major winner Andy Murray, 34, was pitched against Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili, the world No.23 he beat at the Sydney Classic on Wednesday night. Wildcard Murray’s first trip to Melbourne Park will be one to watch.

Wimbledon finalist and seventh seed Matteo Berrettini has a potentially tricky clash against American Brandon Nakashima.

Great Britain’s Cam Norrie, Indian Wells champion last October, meets rising American Sebastian Korda, while Korda’s countryman Reilly Opelka takes on South African veteran Kevin Anderson.

The pick of the women’s first-round matches shapes as British teenager Emma Raducanu, who came from the clouds to claim the US Open as a qualifier, against another former champion in New York, American Sloane Stephens.

Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova has been drawn against German Andrea Petkovic and Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic will meet Kristina Mladenovic, of France.

FIRST ROUND WOMEN’S MATCH-UPS

  • Ashleigh Barty versus qualifier
  • Sabalenka versus wildcard Storm Sanders
  • Iga Swiatek versus qualifier

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