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2023 Australian Open Draw: Predictions & Ridiculousness

Well, well, well. In our recent article we discuss how ridiculous and unfair some of the draws are for the majors. It was in anticipation of what we might see this week when the Australian Open draw was released.

The 2023 Australian Open didn’t disappoint. For as unfair as the slams typically are in individual match ups the draws are always interesting. For diehard tennis fans it’s like Christmas morning, so let’s take a look and highlight some of the wild disparities, but also give some overall thoughts and projections as well in this preview.

Let’s start at the top. Unsurprisingly world number one Carlos Alcaraz is unable to play since withdrawing from the Tour Finals. This opens the number 1 seed to to go to Nadal. So what is the reward for being number 1 you ask, a first-round match-up with #40 Jack Draper.

#1 Nadal vs #40 Draper: Round 1

#1 vs number #40 would be bad enough, but this isn’t even like it’s a number 40th-ranked player who is a 30-something career journeyman like John Millman. This is a 21 year old heat seeker who is rising up the rankings. We projected Draper last month to finish in the top 25 in 2023. It’s just a natural progression coming off the season he just had. Draper has already beaten two top 8 players in last season (Auger-Aliassime and Tsitsipas). He’s more than capable of handing a recently shaky Nadal a 1st round exit.

33rd ranked Yoshihito Nishioka is the other seed he could face before the 4th round and the only one higher than than Draper. To me Draper is the tougher out given his talent and being on the rise and already similar current rank Nishioka is 27 and pretty much what he is.. Even Nadal’s 4th round likely projected match up of #16 F. Tiafoe or #18 K. Khachanov isn’t much more concerning than Draper in round 1 to me. This is a terrible 1st round match up for a player that should be rewarded for being the top ranked player in the slam.

Draper’s Perspective

We talked about this from Nadal’s perspective, but how would you feel as Jack Draper? He was just points away from being seeded, is in the top 40 in the world by 21 years old and this is your reward? As a young up and comer and you have to play an all time great, #1 seed in the first round. This does nothing for tennis in the grand scheme either to not try to build up the young future of the game. Why wouldn’t you want these guys meeting in a 3rd round. It’s not only bad for both Nadal and Draper, it’s bad for the game of tennis overall which needs to build up the generation behind Nadal and Djokovic. Making Draper 1st round fodder does nothing to advance that. Even if he wins, it does nothing but hurt the interest in your own tournament which makes it a complete lose-lose. Even if either win, if it’s a long 5 set match up at what cost does it come to have players this highly ranked play this early.

Audience Perspective

We get it, it’s a spectator sport. Are there no other fair but interesting matches you could put with Nadal against in the first round? Why not pair him against someone like John Millman? Millman is a wildcard ranked 148th in the world. It’s a fair matchup but also one that people know who Millman is, especially in Australia. As an Australian, he would have some if not most of the crowd behind him. It would make for good TV and he’s beaten top ranked players before. He’s still live for a competitive matchup or even an upset. That seems to check all the boxes and still be an interesting matchup to kick off the tournament. Also a fair one. Instead he’s paired up vs 55th ranked Huesler in round one. Flip those matchups and you get it much closer to right. Nadal might not want to see a crafty vet like Millman either but at least it makes sense an has some logic of how to run a fair tournament.

Other 1st Round Gimmies & Nonsense

There are many examples of much easier first round matches. Most are in a 128 field tournament vs a top 40 player ranked in the top third of all participants. Let’s take a quick look at some other most ridiculous matchups. The most egregious are Qualifiers playing other Qualifiers or Wild Cards.

I’m not even going to list the qualifiers and wild cards by name. The rank and how they even got in the major should be sufficient. These are 1st round matchups.

128Qualifiervs169Wild Card
128Qualifiervs169Wild Card
95T. Danielsvs310Qualifier
84Kwonvs123Wild Card
22de Minaurvs208Qualifier

There are other weak 1st round match ups as well, but you get the idea. Multiple players will likely walk into the 3rd round vs a for sure qualifier or wild card who play each other in the 1st round.

A Few Other Match-ups

5 Seed Rublev vs Thiem (99th ranked)

Nadal got screwed, but there were others that also got it rough as well. Technically Dominic Thiem is a wild card and barely in the top 100, but how would you feel having to face him as a top 5 seeded player? A 29 year old former top 10 mainstay for half a decade who’s only ranked this low because he’s coming off injury. Thiem appears to be on his march back to relevance. That’s a tough draw for a young top 5 player like Rublev and does nothing for either Rublev or Thiem or the game of tennis when you have all these other jabroni no-name qualifiers and wild card playing other nobodies. Split them up, and give us a more meaningful fair match up later.

13 seed Berrettini vs Andy Murray (49th ranked)

This match up is reasonable enough on paper considering all the other chicanery , but it’s still not beneficial to Berrettini or Murray. Why continue to match up the future of tennis vs names of interest. Give them some easier first rounders and let them meet later when the stakes are higher. There are 50th type ranked players that are getting basically walk overs vs qualifiers to the 3rd round and you put an all time great in a 1st round match up he likely loses. If he wins he takes out a young top player and probably worn out and doesn’t make it much farther anyway. All for what a first round match up only diehards are tuning into anyway. There is already excitement for the start of the 1st major of the year anyway. It’s a wasted match up.


If all were to go chalk these are the 4th Round Match ups

4th Round
1. Nadal
16. Tiafoe
10. Hurkacz
7. Medvedev
3. Tsitsipas
15. Sinner
11. Norrie
6. Auger-Aliassime
5. Rublev
9. Rune
14. Carreno Busta
4. Djokovic
8. Fritz
12. Zverev
13. Berrettini
2. Ruud
1. Nadal
7. Medvedev
3. Tsitsipas
6. Auger-Aliassime
5. Rublev
4. Djokovic
8. Fritz
2. Ruud
1. Nadal
3. Tsitsipas
2. Ruud
4. Djokovic

We also have a stupid 1 vs 3 match up and a 2 vs 4 in the Semi Finals. There have been years when there was a clear Big 3 of the greatest players that ever lived on a tier to themselves, the first ranked player was completely screwed by this nonsense. At least this time as fans the potential final of Nadal vs Djokovic exist. It still doesn’t every justify the 1 vs 3 seed in the SF’s and not knowing how to set up an equitable fair tournament. If you want that match up make Djokovic the 3 seed. That’s where discretion should be used. Instead, these are ridiculous draws that for years it has screwed the 1st player who should be rewarded for being first. This year is no different.


We picked Djokovic to win the Australian Open months ago even before Alcarz was injured. He’s still our favorite. I see a Semi Finals of Djokovic, Tsitsipas, Medvedev, Berrittini now that the seeds have been set. The only difference is we had Nadal instead of Ruud/ Berrittini a month ago before the draws were set. Berrittini is coming off a great start to the season and has the grand slam experience of making it deep. He just beat Ruud and Hurkacz as well last week and I think he makes the semi’s as the 13th seed.

Sleeper To Watch : Rune

We haven’t talked much about Rune. With Alcaraz out, he’s the young sleeper to watch if you can even call him that. He’s currently 10th in the world as a 19 year old. He’s not been on this stage often or deep on courts yet to make him a favorite. He also just got beat by 33rd ranked Nishioka. Still he’s got to be one of the top watches as an up an comer. He had a potential 3rd round matchup with 19th Seed Kyrgios. That would be a difficult match up on his home soil with his top 10 type talent too. If he could get by that one Rublev is beatable. I might even favor Run over him in the 4th round. A quarter finals vs Djokovic would be great for the sport.

Winner: Djokovic

After last season’s weirdness of missing tournaments, I think you still have to pick him. He’s simply the best player in the world still in my estimation.

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