World no. 1 Rafael Nadal leads the field at the 2020 Australian Open while defending champion Novak Djokovic is on a collision course with Roger Federer: The draw has been released for the first Grand Slam of the year and we've got analysis and predictions for you.
The 2020 Australian Open is live from Melbourne from 20 January to 2 February.
Will Djokovic claim a record-extending eighth title in Melbourne, or can Nadal hoist the trophy for the first time in over a decade? Federer is also very much in the conversation, so is Medvedev, seeking his first major after coming so close at the US Open last year.
Stefanos Tsitsipas, Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev are just a few of the other players who will be eyeing deep runs in Melbourne over the next fortnight.
We preview the Australian Open men’s singles’ draw and make our predictions.
Projected Quarter Final: Rafael Nadal (1) vs Dominic Thiem (5)
Other key players: Gael Monfils (10), Nick Kyrgios (23), Felix Auger-Aliassime (20), Karen Khachanov (16)
World No. 1, Rafael Nadal starts his bid for a second Australian Open title against Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien, and will face one of Federico Delbonis or Joao Sousa in the second round. Nadal has never played Dellien, but he is a combined 6-0 against Delbonis and Sousa, and has dropped just one set in those six matches. The great Spaniard should have little problems in navigating his way into the third round, where he will face either Pablo Carreno Busta or a qualifier. The 2009 champion has a good record against his compatriots, and has lost only one set in four previous meetings against Carreno Busta. The world No. 1 looks set to cruise into the second week in Melbourne.
Things will get significantly more difficult in the fourth round, where the 33-year-old is seeded to meet either Karen Khachanov or Nick Kyrgios, both of whom could clash in the third round. Khachanov shouldn’t have any problems in finding his way into third round, but Kyrgios’ route is more complicated, as he opens against steady Italian, Lorenzo Sonego, and could face either Gilles Simon or Pablo Cuevas in the second round. It is very possible that the unpredictable Aussie blasts his way through that draw, just as much as he could be run into the ground by the obdurate Simon. Either way, Khachanov looks like the man to back in that section of the draw.
I reckon Nadal will be happier to play Khachanov than Kyrgios! The world No. 1 is 7-0 vs Khachanov; and 4-3 vs. Kyrgios…
Should Nadal go past the fourth round, he is projected to meet Dominic Thiem in the quarter finals. Thiem’s improvement on hard courts was one of the stories of 2019- can he keep up that form in 2020? The Austrian didn’t have a great start to the season, losing to Borna Coric and Hubert Hurkacz in the ATP Cup, and has never really played well at the Australian Open, which puts question marks against his chances in Melbourne. The fifth seed opens against Adrian Mannarino, a man he’s beaten in all of their previous seven meetings, and could face Albert Ramos-Vinolas or Alex Bolt in the second round. Kevin Anderson and Taylor Fritz are possible third round opponents, with Gael Monfils possibly waiting in the fourth round. Monfils may have to take down Felix Auger-Aliassime in the third round.
Thiem wasn’t particularly impressive at the ATP Cup, and may be bothered by Anderson or Fritz in the third round. Could be a chance for Monfils to reach just a second Australian Open quarter final…
Predicted Quarter Final
Rafael Nadal vs Gael Monfils
Projected Quarter Final: Daniil Medvedev (4) vs Alexander Zverev (7)
Other key players: David Goffin (11), Andrey Rublev (17), Stan Wawrinka (15), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (28)
Fourth seed, Daniil Medvedev has got a challenging route at the Australian Open, as he opens against American young gun, Frances Tiafoe, and could face former finalist, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and former champion, Stan Wawrinka before the quarter finals.
The Russian should be far too consistent for Tiafoe in the first round, and could meet German left-hander, Dominic Koepfer in the second round. Koepfer caused Medvedev a big scare in the fourth round of last year’s US Open, but the Russian fought back from a set and a break down to take out the qualifier in four sets. I fancy this to be a more comfortable win for Medvedev, who should proceed to take on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the third round, assuming Tsonga gets through the first two rounds. The 2008 finalist opens against Alexei Popyrin.
Whoever comes through that is projected to meet 2014 champion, Stan Wawrinka in the fourth round. Wawrinka starts against Damir Dzumhur, and may have to take down John Isner in the third round. The 15th seeded Swiss remains one of the most dangerous players on the tour, but on the evidence of the last six months, Medvedev is the man to back for a quarter final slot from this section of the draw.
The draw projects a Medvedev vs Zverev quarter final, but not many will be backing Zverev to get that far. Apart from his well-documented Grand Slam struggles, Zverev is coming off a below par year, and looked out of sorts during the ATP Cup, where he lost all of his three matches. The German has an intriguing opener against former Roland Garros semi-finalist, Marco Cecchinato, while Casper Ruud and Egor Gerasimov are his possible second round opponents. If he survives, he’ll likely face Nikoloz Basilashvili or Fernando Verdasco in the third round, before a possible fourth round meeting with David Goffin or Andrey Rublev. Goffin and Rublev have been good this year. Goffin notably beat Nadal at the ATP Cup, while Rublev claimed a title in Doha. I’d say the quarter finalist from this section of the draw will be the winner of that projected third round encounter.
Predicted Quarter Final
Daniil Medvedev vs David Goffin
Projected Quarter Final: Roger Federer (3) vs Matteo Berrettini (8)
Other Key players: Fabio Fognini (12), Denis Shapovalov (13), Grigor Dimitrov (18), Borna Coric (25), Hubert Hurkacz (31)
This isn’t a straightforward draw for Roger Federer, who will have to slip past some sizeable banana peels if he is to survive this quarter. The great Swiss is playing his first tournament of the season, having opted out of the ATP Cup. The world No. 3 should have too much nous for Steve Johnson, but he could find it more difficult to shake off Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic in the second round.
Federer’s projected third round opponent is Hubert Hurkacz, who has made a decent start to the year, beating Borna Coric and Dominic Thiem at the ATP Cup, and reaching the semi finals in Auckland as at the time of writing. I’d still expect the six-time Aussie Open champion will survive this early examination, but there could be more problems in the fourth round, with Grigor Dimitrov or Denis Shapovalov potentially waiting.
Dimitrov defeated Federer at the US Open last year, and looked good at the ATP Cup, while Shapovalov will be eyeing a Grand Slam breakthrough. It was at this same stage last year that Federer fell to Stefanos Tsitsipas in Melbourne- can Shapovalov recreate that script in 2020? The young Canadian has some work to do before that potential shot at Federer, with Marton Fucsovics, Jannik Sinner and Dimitrov all lining his route to the fourth round. The smart money would be on Federer to come through, but there’s enough in this draw to worry the mighty Swiss.
Matteo Berrettini headlines the other side of this quarter as he attempts to back up his semi-final run from the US Open last year. It’s a fairly decent draw for Berrettini, who’s got Fabio Fognini, Guido Pella and Borna Coric as the highest-ranked possible opponents before the quarter finals. He could face Coric in the third round, while Pella or Fognini could be waiting in the Round of 16. No one here particularly jumps out as a premier quarter final candidate, which should encourage the likes of Sam Querrey, who faces Coric in the first round.
I’m not very confident about Berrettini, who pulled out of the ATP Cup with an abdominal problem, leaving this section wide open. I’m tempted to go for Coric to make the quarter finals, if the Croatian can survive a tough opener against Querrey.
Predicted Quarter Final
Roger Federer vs Borna Coric
Projected Quarter Final: Novak Djokovic (2) vs Stefanos Tsitsipas (6)
Other Key players: Roberto Bautista-Agut (9), Diego Schwartzman (14), Benoit Paire (21), Milos Raonic (32)
Defending champion, Novak Djokovic has to be right on his game from the start, as he takes on the heavy-hitting German, Jan-Lennard Struff- one of the most dangerous unseeded players in the draw- in the opening round. The seven-time champion would have wished for a less tasking opening round opponent, but he’s still the overwhelming favourite to take down the German, as he’s done in both of their two previous meetings. The world No. 2 should not have any troubles against Tatsumo Ito or a qualifier in the second round, while he should be too strong for any of his projected third round opponents. Great Britain’s Daniel Evans is the highest ranked player Djokovic could face in the third round.
The 32-year-old could then run into Diego Schwartzman in the fourth round, before a potential quarter final meeting with Stefanos Tsitsipas.
With semi-final points to defend in Melbourne, Tsitsipas will be under some pressure as he attempts to back up his superb exploits from 2019. The draw doesn’t help him, with veteran campaigners, Milos Raonic, Marin Cilic and Roberto Bautista-Agut all disputing a quarter final berth with the young Greek. The 21-year-old opens against Salvatore Caruso, and could play wily German, Philipp Kohlschreiber in the second round. Former world No. 3, Milos Raonic is a possible third round opponent, while Roberto Bautista-Agut, Benoit Paire and Marin Cilic headline the list of potential fourth round foes.
Bautista-Agut was terrific at the ATP Cup, winning all of his six matches, and presents a very strong case in this part of the draw. He made the quarter finals last year, losing to Tsitsipas, and could well get his revenge 12 months later should that re-match happen.
Predicted Quarter Final
Novak Djokovic vs Roberto Bautista-Agut
Rafael Nadal vs Daniil Medvedev
Roger Federer vs Novak Djokovic
Rafael Nadal vs Novak Djokovic