Possible routes to the final for Djokovic, Medvedev, Barty and Osaka explained

To some extent, the talk is finished. Of course, it is not yet waiting for a weekend of media crumbs and immigration contemplation. But we have at least a draw, which gives us something else to talk about.

Even the draw was far from straightforward. Originally scheduled for 6 p.m. 15 local time in Melbourne, it was postponed just two minutes in advance, sparking rumors that Tennis Australia had gotten heads-up about a potential Novak Djokovic decision by the immigration minister.

However, the ceremony was only delayed by 75 minutes and took place, with world No. 1 at the top of the men’s brackets, otherwise as planned.

Djokovic’s expected route

  • First round: Miomir Kecmanovic (World No. 78)
  • R2: Tommy Paul (21)
  • R3: Lorenzo Sonego (27)
  • R4: Gael Monfils (19)
  • QF: Matteo Berrettini (7)
  • SF: Alexander Zverev (3)
  • F: Daniil Medvedev (2)

One of the luxuries of being seed No. 1 is the knowledge that the first round will hardly set you against an opponent with a high chance of beating you. The average ranking of Djokovic’s first round opponent on slam in the last decade is 88 – which actually means that Miomir Kecmanovic is a more talented opponent than the defending champion might have expected.

But as a colleague, the Serb Kecmanovic may end up being the ideal opponent. Rod Laver Arena can be a feverish place when Djokovic goes out, unvaccinated, perhaps under injunction and defiant. There has been speculation about that Australian fans in the world’s most closed city could buh Djokovic, but if both players are Serbian, it seems more likely that he will have even more fans in the crowd than usual to drown out the noise.

His first seeded opponent could come in the third round in the form of Lorenzo Sonego, who smashed Djokovic back in Vienna two years ago for the loss of just three matches, a result that remains one of the most abnormal in recent memory – but the Italian also took a set of him on Rome’s clay last season, suggesting he has some control over the 20-time slam champion’s game.

Djokovic was also able to face France’s Gael Monfils, who won the title in Adelaide last week and is without a doubt playing his best tennis for two years, although his mutual battle with world No. 1 is not good: he has lost all 17 meetings.

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Medvedev’s expected route to the final

  • R1: Henri Laaksonen (92)
  • R2: Nick Kyrgios (114)
  • R3: Ugo Humbert (31)
  • R4: Diego Schwartzman (13)
  • QF: Andrey Rublev (5)
  • SF: Stefanos Tsitsipas (4)
  • F: Novak Djokovic (1)

No matter where Nick Kyrgios landed in the draw, it would create some excitement as he is perhaps Australia’s most exciting, if also the most enigmatic, tennis player / basketball player / vaccine advocate.

The dream for drama would have been that the wildcard was dropped in Djokovic’s part of the draw, but to be a potential opponent for No. 2. Daniel Medvedev is almost as good. The pair have played twice before and the Australian won both times, even though those matches were back in 2019, before Medvedev had seriously announced himself on the global stage as a hard-court monster.

Should he meet and beat Kyrgios, he may have to record his first win against another player in Ugo Humbert. The Frenchman beat him as late as this month, winning a match in three sets in the ATP Cup in Sydney to add another victory against Medvedev in their two-match history.

His final stages look easier – he would expect to beat other Russian Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas may not be fit enough to reach as far as the last four – but he will have had to turn some records to get there.

Barty’s expected route to the final

  • R1: Lesia Tsurenko (120)
  • R2: Varvara Gracheva (79)
  • R3: Camila Giorgi (33)
  • R4: Naomi Osaka (14)
  • QF: Maria Sakkari (6)
  • SF: Barbora Krejcikova (4)
  • F: Garbine Muguruza (3)

It’s rare to see Ashleigh Barty look anything but comfortable, whether it’s on the coverage point, third tee or baseline. An ingenious multisport athlete with a single-digit handicap and professional cricket recognition for her name, she is a deserved and interesting top seed.

Her draw immediately looks straightforward – until you notice Naomi Osaka in the fourth round. The Japanese player withdrew from his semi-final in Melbourne this week, citing a stomach complaint, but in all likelihood saved himself from the grand slam, which represents a significant increase in physical work after spending more off-field in 2021.

Barty and Osaka have not played since 2019 in Beijing, where Osaka equalized the head-to-head record to make it 2-2 in a close three-setter, and if the defending champion in Melbourne comes to the second week, she will be a serious challenger. once again.

What happens after that is anyone’s guess, and the chances of an expected draw surviving the notoriously difficult first week of a WTA slam seem slim – but one of Barty and Osaka will not make it to the quarterfinals, that’s for sure .

Osaka’s expected route to the final

  • R1: Camila Osorio (55)
  • R2: Madison Brengle (59)
  • R3: Belinda Bencic (23)
  • R4: Ashleigh Barty (1)
  • QF: Maria Sakkari (6)
  • SF: Barbora Krejcikova (4)
  • F: Garbine Muguruza (3)

By virtue of playing so little last year due to a few mental breaks, Naomi Osaka would always be handed a difficult path to a title defense. However, the presence of as many as four top-10 players and the Olympic champion was probably more than she had expected.

Even reaching these stages will not be easy either. Camila Osorio has gone from 186 in the world this time last year to the brink of the top 50 and noted her first top-10 victory when she came from behind to beat Elina Svitolina on Tenerife back in October. The Colombian is a dangerous banana peel and Osaka can not afford to start cold.

Madison Brengle may look less threatening; it’s about five years since she reached the top 50, though she is not far away again after winning two titles at the end of 2021, albeit in second-rate events back in the United States.

After that, it will probably only be top-class matches for Osaka, who have all the necessary skills to win them.

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