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Australian Open Men’s Singles Round 1 Watchability Power Rankings

The Australian Open is underway. With the qualifying already done and dusted, we know all 64 first round matchups in the men’s singles draw. Without further ado, let me introduce the 2018 Aussie Open Watchability Power Rankings.  In this piece, I’m putting together a list of early matches featuring a certain enticing storyline. As you will notice, I tried to stray away from the big names who draw attention just because they are insanely good.

Not-too-friendly neighbors

Nicolas Jarry vs Leonardo Mayer

Laslo Djere vs Ivo Karlovic

Both Jarry and Djere aim to earn first GS main draw win. They are 22 and 23 years of age respectively, so they aren’t precisely tantalizing prospects. The exciting aspect about their openers lies on their adversaries’ home country. The Chilean will be extra pumped to upend an Argentinian, and so will be the Serbian against the Croatian giant.

Watchability Index: 6/10

I mean…

Novak Djokovic vs Donald Young

One of the best players of all time, who happens to be a six-time champion in Melbourne, is set to play his first official match since Wimbledon. Welcome back Novak!

Watchability Index: 6/10

Grand Slam debut of dazzling foreign prospects

Corentin Moutet vs Andreas Seppi

Soonwoo Kwon vs Jan-Lenard Struff

Jaume Munar vs Gael Monfils

Christian Ruud vs Christophe Van Garsse

It is not fun when unprepared kids receive Slam invitations and get thrown to the lions. However, both Moutet and Kwon are ranked in the high-100s and should not be overpowered. Meanwhile, former French Open boys finalist Jaume Munar, the 20-year-old protégé of Rafael Nadal, breezed through qualifying and will seek to upset “LaMonf.”

Ok, fine, Ruud and Van Garsse are NOT playing this week. I didn’t make up that matchup, though. It actually took place back in 1998. It’s the Norwegian’s son, Casper Ruud, who will face Quentin Halys in the first round.

Watchability Index: 8/10

Gauging the importance of the H2H

Dominic Thiem vs Guido Pella

The Argentinian lefty has quietly owned Thiem in their two previous career meetings, per Tennis Abstract. Will that dominance translate to the big stage of a Grand Slam? We will find out. Rather than a dark horse, in my opinion, the Austrian is a prime candidate to succumb early. I expect this match to be a dogfight. Can’t wait!

Watchability Index: 8/10

Will the bad boy finally put it together?

Nick Kyrgios vs Rogerio Dutra Silva

Despite the continuous disappointments, I’m still standing straight on the Kyrgios’ train. For the sake of our entertainment, hopefully the Canberra native does not stay up all night watching Boston Celtics highlights. Barring meltdown, the Australian will blow the Brazilian journeyman off the court in exhilarating fashion.

Watchability Index: 8/10

Keep getting dem checks!

Aleksandr Dolgopolov vs Andreas Haider-Maurer

Haider-Maurer entered the main draw on the back of a Protected Ranking provision. Currently ranked #451 in the world, the Austrian is a shell of his pre-two-year-injury self. It should be a routine win for pretty much anybody in the draw. However, Dolgopolov is known for his propensity to clown around. They duel could turn out to be an unwatchable product or great entertainment.

Watchability Index: Either 9/10 or 1/10

Note: The honorary president of the Association of Tennis Mercenaries, Bernard Tomic, would definitely fit in this section had he managed to get through qualifying. In case you missed it, the mercurial Aussie replied to a post-loss question with a legendary  “I just count my millions” quote. How can you not love Bernie?

Calibrating the effect of the Australian Cheering Army

Jason Kubler vs Pablo Carreño

Thanasi Kokkinakis vs Daniil Medvedev

Alex de Minaur vs Tomas Berdych

Alexei Popyrin vs Tim Smyczek

I feel like the Australian players enjoy the most home court advantage amongst the Grand Slams. Year after year, It seems like the crowds get rowdy and push their compatriots to victories they had no business in obtaining. For example, 16-year-oold Tomic vs Potito Starace in 2009, 19-year-old Nick Kyrgios’ quarterfinal run in 2015, 18-year-old Kokkinakis over peak Ernests Gulbis in 2015, 17-yearo-old De Minaur versus Gerald Melzer last year and so on…

All the Aussies listed above are undoubtedly underdogs. Nevertheless, I would be shocked if they go 0-4 or even 1-3.

Watchability Index: 9/10

The match of the hype

Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Denis Shapovalov

These are the two youngest players to warrant a direct entry. In this showdown featuring a pair of spectacular one-handed backhands, Shapovalov has the better tour resume, but Tsitsipas has been the steadier force since the US Open. Both teens flash Top 10 potential and even Grand Slam winning upside.

For what it’s worth, Shapovalov owns a 2-1 head-to-head edge, albeit on the junior tour.

Watchability Index: 9.5/10

Call in sick to your job, you won’t regret watching this

Andrey Rublev vs David Ferrer

In my book, this encounter has it all. A young, volatile and even reckless flamethrower against a resilient, counterpunching veteran. There is no point in diving into further detail. Just follow my advice and cancel whatever plans you have so that you can watch this match. Don’t forget the popcorn. Oh, and if you’re lucky to be on site, there will probably be some epic outbursts and broken rackets to collect.

Watchability Index: 10/10

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Embed from Getty Images


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