Australian Open 2020: Five men’s Round 1 matches to watch

andrew hendrie /

The 2020 Australian Open men’s draw is out and we’ve picked out five first round showdowns that are not to be missed!

Daniil Medvedev ?? [4] vs Frances Tiafoe ??

H2H: Medvedev leads 1-0

2019 | ATP Washington R16 | Medvedev 6-2 7-5

Arguably the pick of the men’s Round 1 matches sees fourth seed Medvedev up against last year’s quarter-finalist Tiafoe. Medvedev was one of the biggest stories of the 2019 season and arrives back in Melbourne as a top four player, having made his first Grand Slam final at the U.S. Open. The Russian has a decent draw to make the Australian Open final, including a potential rematch with Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals, but first he must get past the dynamic Tiafoe, who lit up Melbourne Park with his sparkling run to the last eight 12 months ago.

However, Tiafoe barely made an impact for the remainder of 2019 and still struggles significantly with his consistency. In saying that, the young American loves a big stage, and if he can sink his teeth into the match early, he has the weapons to make Medvedev nervous.

Alexander Zverev ?? [7] vs Marco Cecchinato ??

H2H: Never played

Normally this should a routine straight sets win for the seventh seed, but Zverev is in all sorts on serve at the moment and until we see otherwise, every match is shaping up as a big battle. The German went 0-3 in ATP Cup matches to launch the season and was double faulting in practically every service game – and if he keeps that up, he won’t be advancing far at the Australian Open.

Cecchinato is of course a former French Open semi-finalist and an excellent ball-striker, but the Italian does his best work on clay and hasn’t had much success on hardcourt. Still, he should be buoyed by Zverev’s weak serving, and if he can take advantage of that, the upset is there for the taking.

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Fabio Fognini ?? [12] vs Reilly Opelka ??

H2H: Level at 1-1

2019 | Davis Cup Finals | Fognini 6-4 6-7(4) 6-3
2019 | US Open R128 | Opelka 6-3 6-4 6-7(6) 6-3

After splitting their H2H series last season, who comes out on top in this battle of the mercurial talent and giant server? You never know what you’re going to get from Fognini, who is capable of beating and losing to just about everyone in the draw, while you know exactly what to expect from Opelka – big serving, rinse and repeat.

Opelka frustrated Fognini to the very core in upsetting the Italian in the U.S. Open first round last season and will be hoping for more of the same, but the 12th seed did get his revenge in the Davis Cup  Finals in November. It will come down to a couple of crucial points in each set – can Fognini keep his concentration and focus?

Diego Schwartzman ?? [14] vs Lloyd Harris ??

H2H: Never played

Schwartzman will have to be at the peak of his powers to avoid bowing out in the opening round, with Harris playing the best tennis of his career heading into the Australian Open. After performing well for South Africa in the ATP Cup, Harris has qualified and at the time of writing is into the semi-finals of the Adelaide International, cruising past Pablo Carreno Busta in his last match in straight sets.

Schwartzman meanwhile has lost seven of his last nine matches and went 1-4 in the ATP Cup for Argentina. He will always be vulnerable in early rounds against big hitters, so if Harris is serving well and executing from the baseline, the youngster from South Africa has a big chance to earn one of his best career wins to date.

Stan Wawrinka ?? [15] vs Damir Dzumhur ??

H2H: Dzumhur leads 2-1

2019 | Geneva R16 | Dzumhur 3-6 6-3 6-4
2018 | St. Petersburg QF | Wawrinka 6-3 6-4
2017 | Dubai R32 | Dzumhur 7-6(4) 6-3

At first glance, this might seem like an easy opener for Wawrinka, but he’s lost two of the three matches he’s played against Dzumhur. The Bosnian has played great tennis at the Australian Open in the past and has always received strong support from the strong contingent of fans from his home country at Melbourne Park.

Dzumhur hasn’t been playing his best tennis for a while now and has slipped to No. 92 as a result, but Wawrinka will have to be on guard. The Swiss looks like he’s gearing up for a big year after finally shaking off his knee injury, but this is a potential banana skin for the 2014 Australian Open champion.