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Australian Open draw winners and losers

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Novak Djokovic has a favorable draw entering this year's Australian Open. (ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic has a favorable draw entering this year’s Australian Open. (ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE, Australia — The Australian Open draw ceremony took place on Friday morning. The women ended up with an exciting and balanced draw that should set up some blockbuster matches in the second week. The men, meanwhile, have an incredibly top-heavy draw, with Rafael Nadal, Juan Martin del Potro, Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga all in the same half. If three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic wasn’t tipped as the favorite going into the tournament, he definitely is now.

With the brackets finalized (qualifiers will be placed over the weekend), here’s a look at the draw winners and losers:

[Men's draw] [Women's draw]

Winners

Novak Djokovic (No. 2 seed): The four-time Australian Open champion is gunning for his Open Era record fifth crown in Melbourne. He won the David Ferrer sweepstakes, drawing the No. 3 seed in his half instead of No. 4 Murray. To make things even more rosy, the fifth and sixth seeds, del Potro and Federer, landed in Nadal’s half, leaving Djokovic with Tomas Berdych and Stanislas Wawrinka on his side. Djokovic is a combined 51-10 against the top 10 players in his half and has never, I repeat, never lost to Ferrer, Berdych Wawrinka, or Gasquet on an outdoor hard court. He couldn’t have asked for a better draw.

The highest-ranked player in his section is 15th-seeded Fabio Fognini, who is hobbled with a foot injury and isn’t exactly known for his competitive instincts. The biggest threat to Djokovic before the final would likely come from Wawrinka, who took him to five memorable sets at both the Australian Open and U.S. Open last year. Despite those thrilling matches, Djokovic still leads the head-to-head 15-2. There are no sure things in sport, but Djokovic’s making his fourth straight Australian Open final is as close as it gets.

Serena Williams (No. 1 seed): Williams came out ahead in drawing No. 7 Sara Errani as the highest seed in her section. Serena demolished Errani 6-0, 6-1 in 46 minutes in last year’s French Open semifinals on Errani’s best surface and, notably, Williams’ worst. The five-time champion could face a host of dangerous opponents in the semifinals, with 2013 finalist Li Na, Petra Kvitova, Sabine Lisicki and Angelique Kerber in the opposite section, but it should be smooth sailing through the early rounds.

Eight burning questions for the Australian Open

The WTA: I haven’t seen a women’s Slam draw this balanced in quite some time and that’s a very good thing for the WTA. If the seeds hold — and that’s a big if — the quarterfinals would feature three fantastic matchups. Li and Kvitova (Li leads 4-3), both Grand Slam champions, could meet for the right to play Williams. Maria Sharapova could face her old nemesis from the Bollettieri academy, Jelena Jankovic (Sharapova leads 8-1), and the bad blood between Agnieszka Radwanska and Victoria Azarenka could fuel a good one as well (Azarenka leads 12-3). A semifinal slate of Williams vs. Li or Kvitova and Sharapova vs. Azarenka is a WTA fan’s dream.

Andy Murray (No. 4 seed): The most important thing for Murray is to have a few easy early matches to play himself into form as he continues his comeback from back surgery. That’s precisely what he needs to find his match legs after crashing out of his only warm-up tournament, the Qatar Open, in the second round. The three-time finalist is set up for that exact scenario: He opens against No. 112 Go Soeda, then a qualifier. His potential third-round opponent is No. 26 Feliciano Lopez, against whom Murray is 7-0. Tsonga or Federer possibly looms in the quarterfinals, but the draw has given Murray the best opportunity to prepare.

Photos: Top players finalize their Australian Open preparations

David Ferrer (No. 3 seed): If lightning strikes and Djokovic suffers an early upset, Ferrer would be in perfect position to make his second major final. The 31-year-old, a semifinalist last year, shouldn’t have too much trouble in the early rounds. His toughest opposition before the quarters would come from No. 14 Mikhail Youzhny, No. 20 Jerzy Janowicz, who is coming off an injury, or No. 29 Jeremy Chardy, who knocked out del Potro last year. Ferrer has also won six of the last eight meetings against his projected quarterfinal opponent, Berdych.

Losers

Rafael Nadal (No. 1 seed): If Nadal wins his second Australian Open title, he would become the first man in the Open Era to complete the career Slam twice. To do so he’ll have to navigate a dangerous “Group of Death” that is littered with dangerous players. He’ll open against the tricky Bernard Tomic, who once again is playing his best tennis on home soil. His potential third-round opponent? The dynamic Gael Monfils, who took him to three sets in the final of the Qatar Open last week. A resurgent Lleyton Hewitt, who beat Federer in the Brisbane International final, looms in the fourth round. Nadal is surely the favorite to win each match, but the question is whether the matches themselves, which could easily go four or five sets, will take their toll.

Survive the first week and he’s projected to play del Potro, the most dangerous man outside the Big Four, and then a potential semifinal against either Murray, Federer or Tsonga. All that and then he could play a fairly well-rested Djokovic in the final. It’s hard to see a scenario in which Nadal could have drawn a tougher road to the title.

Roger Federer faces an uphill battle if he wants to get into the Australian Open final. (Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images)

Roger Federer faces an uphill battle toward the Australian Open final. (Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

Roger Federer (No. 6 seed): It’s not the worst draw Federer could have earned, but it could have been better. He’ll open with two straightforward opponents in James Duckworth and possibly Radek Stepanek, but a third-round showdown against Fernando Verdasco could be dangerous, especially if Verdasco plays the way he did at Wimbledon. Speaking of Wimbledon, in lieu of Verdasco, Federer could get a rematch with Sergiy Stakhovsky, who ousted him in the second round of Wimbledon, in the third round. From there, Federer may have to go through both Tsonga and Murray just to match his 2013 semifinal result.

Photos: Roger Federer hosts a friendly exhibition at Melbourne Park

The Aussies: There’s been a good amount of buzz over the last week about the home team’s fantastic results in the lead-up events, but all that hope and optimism was quickly extinguished. The audible groans from the crowd upon seeing Tomic, who has played well enough to make the semifinals of the Sydney International, and Hewitt, who won Brisbane, land in Nadal’s section said it all. On the women’s side, Sam Stosur, who is gaining confidence with a semifinal run at the Hobart International this week, landed in Serena’s section and could face Sydney finalist Tsvetana Pironkova in the second round. And poor Ashleigh Barty. The 17-year-old, who upset Daniela Hantuchova in Brisbane, drew Serena in the first round. At least she’ll get to play on Rod Laver Arena.

Sloane Stephens (No. 13 seed): Stephens had a blessed draw when she made the semifinals last year, but that’s not the case this year. She opens against a quality opponent in Yaroslava “Golden Set” Shvedova and could face the talented but unheralded Ajla Tomljanovic in the second round. Her potential third-round opponent is two-time Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, before a possible rematch of last year’s controversy-laden semifinal against Azarenka.

Ryan Harrison (unseeded): Another Slam, another rough first-round draw for Harrison, who gets Monfils. Come on, tennis gods. Cut the guy some slack.

This post has been updated to correct Andy Murray’s potential opponents.

  • Published On Jan 09, 2014
  • 18 comments
    shelley
    shelley

    In the top half of the draw, there are players who have won a combined total of 33 slams. In the bottom half, there are a total of six slams won - all of them by one player whose six slams are almost totally comprised of Australian Opens. What a ludicrous and unfair draw.

    michaelromine4
    michaelromine4

    "a dangerous "group of death" that is littered with dangerous players." wow great writing.

    Allinthetoss
    Allinthetoss

    Can Serena really get a bad draw.  She is playing heads and shoulders above everyone else.  I would love to see a Vika and Pova semi.  And a Serena and Li NA semi.  At Brisbane Vika didn't look as fit as she normally does (and she herself said she wasn't a few weeks ago). Hope she is close to her best by now.  Can't wait for the matches to begin.

    AlexandreTabet
    AlexandreTabet

    I don't understand the complaints? #The #1 seed gests the #4 seed and the #2 seed gets the #4 seed. That is pretty standard. #1 gets the privilege of playing the lower while the #2 gets the burden of playing the higher seed. But even if the seeding isn't right and people argue that Murray is better than Ferrer, is he better right now? Murray is playing very poorly at the moment. He is nowhere near his mid-2012-mid 2013 levels. He lost early in both tournaments he played this year. Let us face it, there is a lot of rust to clear off after a 3 month recovery from back surgery. And Federer is no longer competitive in 5 set matches. He can be in 3 set matches, but he simply does not have it when it comes to longer matches. Wawrinka is tougher in long matches. Right now, the top 6 players in the world are (in alphabetical order) Berdych, Del Potro, Djokovic, Ferrer, Nadal and Wawrinka. Three of those players are in Djokovic's side of the draw while only one is in Nadal's side of the draw. If anything, Djokovic has the tougher road.

    rgr.crystal
    rgr.crystal

    Murray is seeded to play Lopez in the third though (there's no way a player can be projected to play 3 non seeded players in a row anyway)

    rodrico
    rodrico

    How can the Number One seed (Nadal) get such a monstrous draw?   Unbelievable!!!!

    CMassrey
    CMassrey

    Talk about a cupcake for Djoker and Ferrer.  Might as well pencil Djoker into the final.  I really hate it when one half is significantly stacked compared to the other half, and that definitely happened to the men.  Too bad.

    dthompson98
    dthompson98

    "Williams came out ahead" what a joke, Serena has the toughest draw containing practically ALL of the hot rising young hopefuls,as well as some vets capable of elevating their game when playing her. Sharapova on the other hand has THE softest draw of anyone in the top 10 - as usual (tourney directors still protecting "THE FACE").

    usable.thought
    usable.thought

    Ehh. I wouldn't call this a bad draw for Federer. No matter what, these days he must now face players who are now dangerous to him; a cakewalk draw is virtually impossible. And even as of a few years ago, a soft draw was never actually a "good" draw for him - his form wasn't there in the first few rounds & a soft draw didn't give him enough matches to sharpen up for tough opponents later on. Hence he got some unpleasant surprises. I don't know what his pattern will be like now - nobody does - but I'd imagine that soft draws are still not really what he needs.

    spystud
    spystud

    Pironkova goes through qualies, knocks off Kvitova & Kerber for her first career title.  Nice to know she's actually alive outside of those two weeks in SW19.  


    Watch out, Sam... 

    shelley
    shelley

    @AlexandreTabetHoly doodle, I've seen some people take facts and twist them until they're unrecognizable but your claim that Djokovic has the tougher road is the height of lunacy.

    magroader67
    magroader67

    @dthompson98I don't think Serena's draw is too bad considering that Vika and Maria are on the other side, but it's true that there are some unpredictable and potentially dangerous players in her draw.  And I do feel that when Serena goes in as the overwhelming favorite, weird things (injuries, opponents playing lights out, questionable calls) tend to happen.  I hope she wins, but a player like Li Na totally has the game to trouble her, as does Sam Stosur.  Just that Li Na tends to shrink against Serena and Stosur tends to get bounced by a nobody before she even gets a shot at her.  I guess we'll have to wait and see.

    I'm totally with you on Sharapova, however.  She always gets a cupcake draw and that's why I'm shocked that they actually put Azarenka in her half this time.  Last year people were going on and on about how she was playing so amazing up until the semifinal when it was really that she had an incredibly soft draw.  That's why when Li Na beat her down, I wasn't too surprised.  She had it too easy up to that point.  There ARE some players besides Serena and Vika who can give Maria a tough time when they're playing well...but she almost never has to play them.  She typically draws the 5 foot 5 inch and under finesse players who have no chance against her power.

    maria_pashova
    maria_pashova

    @dthompson98 To play Mattek-Sends is very soft draw, really??? And then Alize Cornet who is taking usually Azarenka to 3 sets.!  I've seen tough draws for Sharapova, Azarenka, Williams and many others in different tournaments. It is clear the last 3 years Serena Williams is at her own level, Sharapova and Azarenka - second level and the rest - third level. That's all. All other discussions are pointless. And after all it's a 2-weeks tournament, everything can happen. What about Stosur? - 

                                                          1 - Zakopalowa

                                                            2 - Pironkova

                                                            3 - Ivanovic

                                                            4- Williams

    "Lucky draw", "Bad draw". "Good draw" - all these terms have relative meaning and depend on the point of view. That's all folks! The games are beginning and "may the odds be in your favor......."



    CMassrey
    CMassrey

    @usable.thought , well, there is no such thing as a 'cake' draw for Fed at his age, but no doubt he (or Murray or Nadal) would have preferred the gift that Djoker and Ferrer got.  Fed played pretty well at last year's AO but going 5 sets with both Tsonga and Murray would have doomed him in the finals anyway.  Of course, he's slated to go through both again only one round earlier.  At least his back is better and that's what really matters.  But even he said that he doesn't expect to be at full tilt until March or April, so no expectations.  A QF showing would be a good result for him.

    spystud
    spystud

    @magroader67  "She always gets a cupcake draw and that's why I'm shocked that they actually put Azarenka in her half this time." 



    You do realize they can't put the #2 seed in anyone's draw, correct?  #1 on one side, #2 on the other, that's not negotiable.