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Not one Aussie male drew a seed in the opening round, providing a series of very winnable matches to take place across next Monday and Tuesday.


[19] Nick Kyrgios (AUS) vs Roman Safiullin

With as much expectation as ever on Nick Kyrgios after his brilliant 2022 season, the Aussie should be able to kick off his campaign with a first-round victory.

Taking on world number 98 Roman Safiulin, Kyrgios will be looking to continue his sixteen-match win streak at majors against players ranked outside the top 50.

If the 27-year-old serves with his normal prowess, he should have little trouble overcoming Safiullin and creating a spirited atmosphere once again on John Cain Arena.

Looking ahead – should Kyrgios progress, he would meet the winner of Ugo Humbert and Richard Gasquet before a potential third round showdown with Holger Rune.

[22] Alex de Minaur (AUS) vs [Q] Yu Hsiou Hsu (TPE)

Hitting Melbourne Park in possibly the best form of his career, Alex De Minaur will take on qualifier Yu Hsiou Hsu, who won six consecutive sets to reach the main draw.

Historically, the ‘Demon’ has faced little trouble from lower ranked players at the Australian Open – holding an 8-0 head-to-head against unseeded opponents – and would be confident in maintaining that record on Monday or Tuesday.

After achieving the fourth highest break percentage on the ATP tour last season (28.5%), De Minaur will need to maximise his strength on return to take control of the match.

Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) vs Fabio Fognini (ITA)

Thanasi Kokkinakis will arrive at Melbourne Park in strong form for the second consecutive year and will face experienced Italian Fabio Fognini in an intriguing first round clash.

The pair have met twice before in 2015 and 2022, with Kokkinakis triumphing on both occasions.

Their most recent meeting came in Geneva during last year’s clay season, where the Aussie came through 6-4, 6-3.

In that contest, Kokkinakis took all three of his break point opportunities - a statistic which will undoubtedly be the key for him again on Monday or Tuesday next week.

[WC] Rinky Hijikata (AUS) vs [Q] Yannick Hanfmann (GER)

Competing in front of a main draw Australian Open crowd for the first time, there will undoubtedly be many nerves for 21-year-old Rinky Hijikata as he takes on German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann next week.

Hanfmann, who took down Thanasi Kokkinakis on Court 3 last year, will have that experience to draw from as he takes on both Hijikata and a vocal Aussie crowd once again.

However, the Aussie wildcard should hold his own against the German and will need to play with his usual consistency and grit to record a first Grand Slam main draw win.

[Q] Max Purcell (AUS) vs Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN)

After a brilliant Australian Open qualifying campaign, winning all three of his matches in straight sets, Max Purcell will meet Emil Ruusuvuori in the first round of the main draw.

The pair have met once before in October 2020 where the Finn triumphed 6-1, 6-2, but over two years on, a very different contest will be on the cards.

Purcell holds the superior serve between the two and will need to continue his dominance behind it, to challenge Ruusuvuori next week.

[WC] Jason Kubler (AUS) vs Sebastian Baez (ARG)

29-year-old Jason Kubler will need to overcome Argentine Sebastian Baez to record his maiden main draw win at Melbourne Park.

Kubler – who notably reached the fourth round at Wimbledon last year – may enter as the underdog against the world number 41 but would be confident in a match that won’t see him overpowered.

With four top 100 wins from his past five matches – all coming on home soil – the Aussie will favour his chances in this matchup and will undoubtedly have the local crowd right behind him.

[Q] Aleks Vukic (AUS) vs [Q] Brandon Holt (USA)

Aleks Vukic will be keen to replicate his first-round effort from the 2022 Australian Open, where a boisterous Court 3 saw him take down 30th seed Lloyd Harris.

Having come through qualifying this time around, the Aussie will have the added match practice on his side, but as will his first opponent in American Brandon Holt.

The pair would both be content with their draw and will each be quite confident in progressing to the second round.

In a match that can expect a series of lengthy exchanges, Vukic will be prepared for a tough battle in the heat, and must remain disciplined throughout the encounter to boost his chances at victory.

[WC] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) vs Chun-Hsin Tseng (TPE)

23-year-old Alexei Popyrin will take on Chun-Hsin Tseng in his opening round match – with the pair going head-to-head at a second consecutive Grand Slam.

In first round action at the 2022 US Open, Popyrin downed Tseng 6-3, 7-6(5), 7-6(3) to mark his only main draw victory at any of the four majors last season.

Popyrin’s triumph in New York came down to his ability to convert crucial points within the match, particularly in both tiebreakers.

The Aussie will be confident in repeating the US Open result, with Tseng having dropped his past nine completed contests (including the 2022 Next Gen Finals) and struggling to find form over the past few months.

Christopher O’Connell (AUS) vs Jenson Brooksby (USA)

After a brilliant 2022 Australian Open, which saw him reach the third round and take down thirteenth seed Diego Schwartzman, Chris O’Connell comes into the 2023 main draw as a direct entrant for the first time.

The Aussie will face 22-year-old Jenson Brooksby, who he defeated 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 last September in San Diego, during their only career meeting.

In that contest, O’Connell applied constant pressure to the American’s serve, creating seventeen break point chances, and will give himself a real opportunity to triumph next week should he do the same.

[WC] John Millman (AUS) vs Marc-Andrea Huesler (SUI)

After a difficult 2022 season, John Millman required a wildcard into the Australian Open for the first time in eight years.

However, the 33-year-old comes to Melbourne in better form after three victories in Adelaide over the past week and would like his chances of adding another on Monday or Tuesday.

Millman faces the left-handed Huesler – having won eighteen of his past twenty-three matches against ‘lefties’ – and will need to be very proactive in return games to get himself into the contest.

A cult hero at Melbourne Park – in what will assuredly be one of his last Australian Open campaigns – Millman will no doubt have a large and boisterous following next week.

Jordan Thompson (AUS) vs J.J. Wolf (USA)

In search of his first Australian Open victory in three years, Jordan Thompson will meet 24-year-old American J.J Wolf for the first time.

While Wolf should enter this contest at the favourite, Thompson’s ability to grind through points and frustrate his opponent will be further boosted by the support of a local crowd and may help swing the match slightly back in his favour.

But having not won a match at ATP or Grand Slam level since the US Open, Thompson will need a much-improved performance to take three sets off the heavy hitting American.


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