Nadal handed a favourable path
top seeds of the men’s and women’s singles draws at the Australian Open were handed mixed fortunes as Rafael Nadal managed to avoid Novak Djokovic in his half while Simona Halep was given a brutal path.
Nadal, last year’s runner-up in Melbourne, opens his campaign against Dominican Victor Estrella Burgos. The first seed he could meet is Bosnian No28 seed Damir Dzumhur in the third round, with No16 seed John Isner lying ahead as a possible fourth round opponent for the Spaniard.
Sixth-seeded Marin Cilic could be Nadal’s quarter-final foe or Spanish No10 seed Pablo Carreno Busta. No3 seed Grigor Dimitrov or No8 Jack Sock are seeded to potentially face Nadal in the semi-finals.
On the women’s side, Halep might have to tame several powerhitters if she plans on making it through her quarter of the draw, while former champion Maria Sharapova also has a daunting path ahead of her.
Halep commences her assault on a first Grand Slam title against local wildcard Destanee Aiava. If she wins against the 17-year-old Aussie, the Romanian world No1 would then face either former semi-finalist Eugenie Bouchard or French big-hitter Oceane Dodin.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova or German former top-10er Andrea Petkovic are possible third round opponents for Halep. No18 seed Ashleigh Barty or Japanese Naomi Osaka could lie ahead in the fourth round before potential quarter-final showdowns with either Karolina Pliskova or Johanna Konta.
Sharapova begins her Australian Open against Germany’s Tatjana Maria and then in the second round could get a rematch with Sevastova, who ousted the Russian in the US Open last year.
Luck on his side: Rafael Nadal.