2014/09/21

Australian Open Hands Tough Draws to Locals

Rod Laver Arena

By Alana Mitchelson

(January 10, 2014) The Australian Open 2014 main draw has been announced and there are some interesting tennis match-ups.

For some of the seeds, the draw unveiled the potential for a relatively smooth run through to quarterfinals but for others, it will not be the most ideal start to the tournament and a second round match looks as though it won’t necessarily come easy.

Among the latter is world No. 3 Maria Sharapova who is set to face Bethanie Mattek-Sands who stunned Agnieszka Radwanska in a dramatic, second-round upset in Sydney just earlier this week.

If all stays true to seed, America’s Sloane Stephens could come across the world No. 2 Victoria Azarenka who has time and time again expressed how she holds the Happy Slam especially close to her heart and will be determined as ever to defend her title.

The world No. 1 and ESPY Best Female Athlete of 2013 Serena Williams will play Aussie young gun Ashleigh Barty who is about the same age Williams was when she won her first major.

During the draw ceremony, Barty’s doubles partner Casey Dellacqua spoke of her initial reaction to seeing her friend being dealt such a frightening match in the opening round.

“What an experience for her (Barty) to play the No. 1 ranked player in the world and in Australia, you know, in her backyard. I’m really really looking forward to that match and I know Ash will actually be really excited to challenge herself against the best in the world,” Dellacqua said.

After his Brisbane International success over the great Roger Federer, Aussie crowd favorite Lleyton Hewitt has drawn Andreas Seppi for the opening round of the Slam next week. With a 3-3 head-to-head record, the Australian looks in good form to give the 24th seed a run for his money.

Roger Federer is lined up to play James Duckworth who is not one to crack under the pressure of a demanding five setter. Having endured a heartbreaking second round epic after miraculously managing to survive the first round marathon match against fellow Aussie Ben Mitchell – a torturous match that prolonged for almost 5 hours – his limits will no doubt be put to the test yet again by the mighty world No. 6.

In his first visit to Australia in 15 years, six-time Grand Slam champion and, more recently, the latest addition to Novak Djokovic‘s coaching team, Boris Becker, offered some analysis of the men’s draw.

“I’m not going to give away too much,” Becker chuckled as he took to the stage.

Djokovic was dealt a promising draw, if the seeding extrapolation is anything to go by, and when questioned of this, Becker kept it political.

“Well, a draw is never good and never bad. The work is set out for you for the day, or the next two weeks. Any of these guys can play the best 20 players in the world so there’s not an easy match. But the bigger leagues are in the top half for sure,” he admitted.

21-year-old Bernard Tomic who has had a robust run through in Sydney thus far, conquering the likes of Marcel Granollers and Alexandr Dolgopolov, will have to serve up his best tennis when confronted with the Spaniard who has defied all odds in his impressive 2013 resurgence from injury setbacks to end the year at world No. 1. I of course speak of Rafael Nadal.

The main draw of the Australian Open kicks off on Monday at Melbourne Park.

Alana Mitchelson is a Melbourne-based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her tournament updates on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN and read her personal website http://alanamitchelson.wordpress.com

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