Alex de Minaur cops brutal blow as draw unveiled for Australian Open

The Australian Open draw hasn't been kind on the home nation's top male player.

Seen here, Alex de Minaur before the 2024 Australian Open.
Local hope Alex de Minaur has been handed a tricky draw for the 2024 Australian Open. Pic: Getty

Alex de Minaur has been handed a tough draw at the Australian Open after being pitted against former World No.3 Milos Raonic in the opening round at Melbourne Park. The Aussie tennis star learnt his fate on Thursday when the draw was unveiled for the season-opening grand slam, which gets underway on Sunday.

The 24-year-old has been in superb form after defeating his fourth top-ten player in 10 days when he downed World No.2 Carlos Alcaraz 6-4, 5-7 (10-3) on Wednesday night in a thrilling match tiebreaker during an exhibition match in front of a packed Rod Laver Arena. De Minaur will no doubt take plenty of confidence into the first grand slam of the year, but has been done no favours after being handed a tricky draw.

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Injuries may have seen Raonic's ranking blow out to No.317 in the world but the former Wimbledon finalist and hard court specialist poses a huge threat to de Minaur's chances. The Canadian boasts one of the fiercest serves in tennis and is capable of throwing even the best players off their rhythm.

Alex de Minaur handy tricky draw for Aus Open

If de Minaur does overcome the big-hitting Raonic in round one, his next two match-ups look more appealing on paper until a potential showdown with World No.5 Andrey Rublev looms in the fourth round. A first round win would see De Minaur come up against either Aussie wildcard Adam Walton or Matteo Arnaldi in round two, followed by a potential third round clash with 18th seed Nicolas Jarry.

The 24-year-old's path from round four onwards looks particularly brutal though, with fourth seed Jannik Sinner looming in the quarter-finals, and 24-time grand slam champion Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals. It also represents a tough draw for 10-time Australian Open champion Djokovic, who will have to get past Sinner and Alcaraz if he hopes to win a record-extending 11th title.

10-time champion Novak Djokovic is on the same side of the Australian Open draw as Alex de Minaur. Pic: Getty
10-time champion Novak Djokovic is on the same side of the Australian Open draw as Alex de Minaur. Pic: Getty

The Serb was one of the big-name scalps that de Minaur claimed over the last fortnight, with the Aussie also accounting for Taylor Fritz and Alexander Zverev in a promising tune-up for his home slam. The local favourite will be hoping to build on his impressive recent form and go on a deep run at Melbourne Park, albeit with a particularly challenging path in front of him.

Aus Open draws throws up some big first round matches

Thursday's draw was also unkind to a number of the other leading Aussie players, with three-time grand slam quarter-finalist Ajla Tomljanovic set to play Petra Martic in the first round. A victory for the 30-year-old - whose has only recently returned from an injury-ravaged 2023 season - would book Tomljanovic a date with either 11th seed Jelena Ostapenko or compatriot Kimberly Birrell in the second round.

Daria Saville takes on Pole Magdalena Frech in her opening round showdown, and would face either two-time champion Naomi Osaka or 16th seed Caroline Garcia in the second round if she's successful. Four-time major winner Osaka is making her grand slam return after becoming a mother last year and the Japanese star's clash with Garcia is among a number of huge match-ups in round one.

Some of the other notable opening round fixtures include Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime's match against Dominic Thiem and Greek seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas taking on big-hitting Italian Matteo Berrettini. Elena Rybakina - the Australian Open runner-up in 2023 takes on Karolina Pliskova in another massive first round encounter. World No.1 Iga Swiatek also has a tricky opening clash against former finalist Sofia Kenin, with the winner to face either Danielle Collins or Angie Kerber in round two.

with AAP

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