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The start of the Australian Open 2023 is now nearly upon us with the draw for the main tournament made and the players ready to take on centre stage. I must admit, I love this time of year for both the ATP and WTA Tours. When the tennis tour moves Down Under, the action rarely disappoints, even if it is a pain to watch the games from the UK due to the time difference! But putting that inconvenience aside, the Australian Open is always a fun Grand Slam to try and tune in for.
It carries a nice element of the unknown regarding the form of various players too. I say that because there are usually just one or two warm-up events prior to the Australian Open. So really, we don’t know exactly who has put in the work during the pre-season to head to Melbourne in peak shape. However, there are other elements such as the heat, pace of the courts, and even night matches to contend with for everyone involved too.
As you can see, it’s a Grand Slam that pushes players to their very limits. But this is all secondary information. Primarily, I want to talk about the 2023 Australian Open draw, as this is a vital part of the two-week event. Below, I’ve discussed many key details about the draw since it has been released on Thursday, January 12th.
Australian Open Draw 2023 – The Finer Details
The Australian Open men’s draw handed the two big stars Rafa Nadal (22 Grand Slam titles) and Novak Djokovic (21 Grand Slam titles) tough brackets. Casper Ruud on the other hand had luck with his side of the draw, although he has the heavy-hitting American Taylor Fritz to think about in his bracket.
In the women’s Australian Open draw the top seed and main favourite Iga Swiatek were put in the same half as the world number 3 Jessica Pegula so this will be potentially a feisty semi-final to look out for. With last season’s champion Ash Barty now retired and only 2 defending champions (Kanin and Azarenka) in the main draw, ironically they were drawn to face each other in round 1, the women’s tournament promises to be hugely exciting and competitive. Big-serving Sabalenka, powerful Garcia, unorthodox Jabeur and Kasatkina can all cause an upset with a bit of luck. They all avoid meeting Swiatek or Pegula until the final
As mentioned above, the draw was conducted on Thursday, January 12th. This is true for both the men’s and women’s events, yet I shall focus on the men’s side for this article. For starters, Nadal and Djokovic have been put on opposite sides of the draw. This means that they could only play one another if they both reach the final. Djokovic would need to beat Ruud en route to the final when looking at players seeded above him. As for Nadal, his main challengers include Tiafoe (same segment), Medvedev (same quarter), as well as Tsitsipas (same half). So really, Nadal has the tougher journey, and he hasn’t been in great form.
Other enticing match-ups that could occur early include Sinner vs Tsitsipas (4th round), Norrie vs Coric (3rd round), and Kyrgios vs Rune (3rd round). As for first-round matches, some potential classics include Murray vs Berrettini and Rublev vs Thiem.
The top five seeds both for men and women are as follows:
|Top 5 Seeds for Men||Top 5 Seeds for Women|
|1. Rafael Nada||1. Iga Swiatek|
|2. Casper Ruud||2. Ons Jabeur|
|3. Stefanos Tsitsipas||3. Jessica Pegula|
|4. Novak Djokovic||4. Caroline Garcia|
|5. Andrey Rublev||5. Aryna Sabalenka|
Of course, these are also the best players in the world at the moment. So it’s no great surprise to see their names within the top five seeds for the Australian Open. Still there are many other talented players around and as per usual everyone will have to be at their best, once play begins
Qualifiers and Wild Cards
Although the main draw begins on January 16th, the qualifiers started on January 11th. A grand total of 16 players qualified for the 2023 Australian Open main draw, winning three matches to do so. Adding to this, there are 8 wild cards issued to players for this year’s event. Guys like Dominic Thiem, Jason Kubler, and Alexei Popyrin have already been granted wild cards, along with several others.
The Australian Open draw was not kind to defending champion Nadal. He has 3 tricky opponents in the first 3 rounds. Even if he goes past all these tests his road to the final only gets trickier. Growing star Tiafoe could be next in round 4 and a potential quarter-final repeat of last year’s Grand Final against the hugely talented Medvedev. All this seriously shrinks Nadal’s chances to defend his title.
The pre-tournament favourite Djokovic also has tough opponents in his bracket, but only later in the tournament. His earliest serious test will be in round 3, but Novak is still expected to make a deep run. This is bad news for the likes of Kyrgios, Rublev and Rune who will have to face him after already battling each other in the lower quarter of the same bracket.
The last bracket of the men’s draw is probably the easiest and offers the chance for some of the lower-ranked Australian Open seeds a deep run. The number 2 Ruud is here, but he doesn’t like Melbourne’s hard courts much. Berrettini and Zverev are both on their way back from injuries, so the big-serving Fritz could be the one to emerge from this bracket. That’s if he overcomes 2 tricky opponents in the first 2 rounds.
The top seed and main favourite Iga Swiatek has been handed a bumpy road. She will likely have to beat a trio of dangerous Americans on her way to the final. She shouldn’t have issues dealing with Gauff and Collins early on, but in the semi-final, she might have to face Pegula, a player she recently lost to. The world number 3 Jessica Pegula has been handed an even tougher bracket and she will need to be at her best. Before she can even think about Swiatek she has to overcome the likes of Krejcikova, Kvitova and Sakkari who are all in her quarter.
Two other favourites Caroline Garcia and Daria Kasatkina were drowned in the same bracket. They will likely have to face each other in the quarter-finals. The last bracket sees the unorthodox Ons Jabur and big-server Sabalenka drawn together. If Sabalenka’s serve is going in on the fast courts of Melbourne she would be a force to be reckoned with.
Order of play
The Australian Open order of play for Days 1 and 2 is not expected to be announced until 48 hours before the start of the tournament with many TV broadcasters still fighting over time slots and demanding certain matches on certain courts. What is known is that the tournament begins on Monday the 16th with the gates for fans opening at 10 am local time and play beginning at 11 am (midnight in the UK) on all courts. The first night session starts at 19 pm (8 am in the UK) and is set to feature defending men’s champion Nadal.
Tie break rules
The Australian Open tie-break rules changed back in 2019 and they remain in place. As things stand in the case of 6:6 in the fifth set (third for women) a long tie break will be played. The first to 10 points in it, or a 2-point lead in case of 10:10, wins.