Australia Open: Grand plans in Oz!

Updated: Jan 17, 2020, 11:44 IST | AFP | Melbourne

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 9 Serena Williams face easy Rd 1 opponents in Hugo Dellien and Anastasia Potapova respectively in pursuit of milestones

Serena Williams of USA trains in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open and Spain's Rafael Nadal practises in Melbourne yesterday. Pics/AFP
Serena Williams of USA trains in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open and Spain's Rafael Nadal practises in Melbourne yesterday. Pics/AFP

Melbourne: World No. 1 Rafael Nadal will take on Bolivian Hugo Dellien in the Australian Open first round next week, while Serena Williams faces Anastasia Potapova in her quest for a 24th Grand Slam title. The Spaniard is attempting to match Roger Federer’s record 20 Grand Slam singles titles on his least favourite surface, having won in Melbourne just once, back in 2009. Australian Nick Kyrgios could be waiting for him in the fourth round, the draw revealed on Thursday.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic will start his bid to lift a record eighth Australian Open title against Jan-Lennard Struff. The Serb had a fine 2019, winning five titles including at Melbourne Park and Wimbledon on the way to ending the year as No. 2, behind only Nadal. Fresh from helping his country win the ATP Cup, he will start his drive to extend his incredible Melbourne run—he holds a 68-8 record—against a German who crashed at the first hurdle last year.

Djokovic could meet Greek young gun Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Last Eight. The ageless Federer, 38, is up against American Steve Johnson in the third quarter of the men’s draw as he targets a seventh Australian Open title, winning his last in 2018.

Williams, who is seeking to match Australian Margaret Court’s record 24 major singles titles, gets underway against 90th ranked Russian Potapova with a potential quarter-final against defending champion Naomi Osaka. Seeded eight, she heads into the tournament winning the Auckland Classic. She is gunning for an eighth Australian crown and her first Slam title since Melbourne in 2017.

Prajnesh inches closer to main draw

Melbourne: India’s Prajnesh Gunneswaran is one win away from sealing a place in the Australian Open main draw after progressing to the final round of the qualifiers. Prajnesh got past Yannick Hanfmann of Germany 1-6, 6-2, 6-1. Meawhile, Sumit Nagal was shown the door by Mohamed Safwat of Egypt 7-6 (2) 6-2.

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