Medvedev and Nadal eye semifinal blockbuster as pair learn fate in Australian Open draw

 rt.com  01/16/2020 10:41:42 

Medvedev and Nadal eye semifinal blockbuster as pair learn fate in Australian Open draw

Russias Daniil Medvedev could meet Spanish world number one Rafael Nadal at the semifinal stage of the Australian Open after the two tennis stars were placed in the same half of the draw.

Nadal and Medvedev met in the US Open final back in September, which the Spaniard won after an epic five-set battle.

Medvedev, seeded fourth in Melbourne, will open his campaign against dangerous unseeded American Frances Tiafoe, who went all the way to the quarter-finals in Australia last year.   

Beyond that the 23-year-old Russian would face Germany’s Dominik Koepfer or an as-yet unknown qualifier in the second round.

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Nadal, who has a solitary Australian Open title among his 19 Grand Slam triumphs, faces Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien in the first round. 

However, the mouthwatering prospect of a meeting with Australia’s Nick Kyrgios potentially lies ahead in the fourth round. There is no love lost between the pair, and tensions have frequently spilled over in previous encounters.

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In the other half of the draw, defending champion and second seed Novak Djokovic could face Swiss legend and six-time Australian Open winner Roger Federer at the semi-final stage.

Djokovic opens his campaign against German world number 37 Jan-Lennard Struff, as the Serb seeks a record-extending eighth title Down Under.

Federer, meanwhile, meets American Steve Johnson in the first round, but could face sterner tests down the line in the form of Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and Canadian youngster Denis Shapovolov.    

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The women’s draw threw up an intriguing first-round meeting between US youngster Cori ‘Coco’ Gauff and veteran Venus Williams. The pair famously met at the same stage last year at Wimbledon, where Gauff, 15, pulled off a sensational win against the 10-time Grand Slam champion.

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Elsewhere, Serena Williams, who is aiming to finally equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles, faces 18-year-old Russian Anastasia Potapova in the first round.

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Williams, 38, has been drawn in the same quarter as defending champion Naomi Osaka of Japan, meaning the pair could meet at the last eight stage.

Top seed Ashleigh Barty of Australia opens her bid for glory on home soil against Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko.

The full draws are listed on the Australian Open website. The action in Melbourne gets underway on Monday January 20, but with organizers also facing potential problems from smoke coming from the bushfires raging across the country. 

Qualifiers criticized the organizers after playing in what they described as "unhealthy conditions," while Slovenia’s Dalila Jakupovic was forced to quit midway through her qualifying match after suffering respiratory problems on court. 

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