As I write this piece, tennis connoisseurs around the world wait with bated breath for the action to start at Melbourne Park. The Australian Open for the past few years has provided some epic tennis matches that would go down in the annals of tennis history. I would expect nothing different this year. With the draw completed, there would be some players cursing their luck and some believing that they have an easy road to the business end of the tournament. The first round has thrown up some intriguing encounters for tennis fans to watch out for:
Andreas Seppi vs Lleyton Hewitt
Undoubtedly, this would be the match generating maximum interest in the opening round. It appeared that Hewitt’s career was headed for a paltry end, but a title in Brisbane has rejuvenated hopes of a comeback from the local man. On the other hand, Italian Andreas Seppi has been a consistent player, nestled comfortably in the top 25 in the world. To add to that, Seppi’s endurance was fairly tested in the five-setters that he played last year. A head-to-head record of 3-3 would further spice up things when these two class players battle it out in the round of 128. Expect this match to be a long gritty battle that could very well go to the deciding set.
Rafael Nadal vs Bernard Tomic
After seeing the draw Aussie fans would be highly disappointed as both their top players have been drawn in the same section as Rafael Nadal. Bernard Tomic, after a good performance in Sydney, would have to play out of his skin if he has to get past the world number 1. This is a match which would generate a lot of hype but could very well go down as a one-sided contest.
Marcos Baghdatis vs Denis Istomin
Baghdatis’ ATP ranking of 109 does not do justice to his skills and talent. A pale shadow of himself in recent times, the 2006 Australian Open finalist would be up against a player who has maintained himself in the top 50 in the world for a significant period of time. A lone warrior for his country, Denis Istomin has always been a tricky customer for any opponent. This match would surely offer some exciting tennis. Expect the ever-encouraging Cypriot fans to be singing and chanting loudly in the stands for Baghdatis.
Opening matches for the seeds:
In other matches, defending champion Novak Djokovic would start his campaign against Lukas Lacko. David Ferrer would be up against Columbian Alejandro Gonzalez while Andy Murray would be playing Go Soeda in the opening round. Meanwhile, Roger Federer will face Australian James Duckworth while Juan Martin del Potro would play American Rhyne Williams.
Indian tennis ace Somdev Devvarman would open his Australian Open campaign against 26th seed Feliciano Lopez.Published 11 Jan 2014, 16:27 IST