Medvedev gets Djokovic wish as Australian Open draw revealed
Russian men’s hope Daniil Medvedev and nine-time winner Novak Djokovic have been placed in separate halves of the draw at the 2023 Australian Open, meaning they could only meet each other in the final of the tournament. However, Medvedev could have to face defending champion Rafael Nadal at the quarterfinal stage.
The draw for the first Grand Slam of the season was announced at Melbourne Park on Thursday, before the tournament gets underway on January 16. Medvedev, a beaten finalist in the past two editions of the event and seeded seventh this year, will start his campaign against unseeded American Marcos Giron in the first round.
Beyond that, he could face a tough-looking early test against America’s Sebastian Korda in the third round, with Korda running Djokovic close in the final at the Adelaide International last weekend.
Medvedev is in the same quarter of the draw as 22-time Grand Slam winner Nadal – the man who beat him in a five-set epic in the Melbourne final last year. This time round, the pair could meet in the quarterfinals, although Nadal, 36, opens his campaign with a potentially tricky match against British youngster Jack Draper.
Following his defeat to Djokovic in their Adelaide semifinal last week, Medvedev said he would be keen to avoid the Serb in the same half of the draw in Melbourne – and was granted his wish.
Chasing a record-extending 10th men’s singles title in Melbourne after returning to Australia following his infamous deportation 12 months ago, Djokovic will play Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena in the first round. Djokovic is, however, in the same quarter of the draw as home hero Nick Kyrgios – the man he beat in the 2022 Wimbledon final.
Despite winning the Adelaide International title last weekend, the 35-year-old Djokovic has faced concerns over his fitness heading into Melbourne after cutting short a practice match with Medvedev this week in apparent caution over a hamstring issue. Djokovic is due to play Kyrgios in another exhibition match on Friday.
Elsewhere in the draw, Andrey Rublev will be the top-seeded Russian man in Melbourne at number five. He faces former Australian Open finalist Dominic Thiem in the first round. Other Russian men’s interest includes Karen Khachanov. The number 18 seed will open his campaign against Bernabe Zapata Miralles.
In the women’s draw, Daria Kasatkina is the highest-seeded Russian at number eight, and she begins in Melbourne against compatriot Varvara Gracheva. Former French Open finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is making her return to Grand Slam tennis after missing much of 2022 with injury, and plays Italy’s Camila Giorgi in the first round.
In line with ATP and WTA policy, Russian players have been cleared to compete at the Australian Open under neutral status despite the widespread bans imposed by other sports because of the conflict in Ukraine. Tennis Australia resisted calls from Ukrainian ambassador Vasyl Myroshnychenko for a blanket ban to be imposed on Russians at the tournament.