Australian Open Men’s Most Intriguing First Round Matchups

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The first Grand Slam of the season is upon us as the world’s best of the ATP Tour have gathered in Melbourne for the Australian Open, looking to end their two week stay by hoisting the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup on Sunday, January 30th.

Nine-time champion Novak Djokovic has dominated the headlines leading up to this event, though it is now time for everyone to focus their attention to the action on the court. We have many compelling first round matchups on the men’s side, with young stars and former finalists alike slated to be tested early.

The first few days of Slams can be a bit tough to sort through. These are the men’s matches you will want to be tuned into on Days 1 and 2.

Cameron Norrie (12) vs Sebastian Korda

Match Date: Monday, January 17th

H2H: Korda leads 1-0

Best Australian Open Finish:

Norrie: Third Round (2021)

Korda: First Time Competitor

#1 ranked Brit Cameron Norrie faces budding American star Sebastian Korda in what is an unfavorable draw for both players who have second week aspirations Down Under. Norrie is coming off of a breakthrough season that saw him reach six finals while also being called on as a substitute at the ATP Finals in Turin. The 21-year-old Korda finished runner-up in the Next Gen Finals after boosting his ranking from #119 to #41 by seasons end.

Though Norrie is coming off of three ATP Cup losses (against FAA, Zverev & Fritz), those matchups should prove to be valuable warmup for the years first Slam. Korda, on the other hand, had to quarantine upon arrival in Australia after a positive COVID-19 test. He did not compete in any warmup events.

Nikoloz Basilashvili (21) vs Andy Murray (WC)

Match Date: Tuesday, January 18th

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H2H: Murray leads 2-0

Best Australian Open Finish:

Basilashvili: Third Round (2018, 2019)

Murray: Runner-Up (2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016)

Not even a week will separate these two from their last head to head meeting as Andy Murray outlasted the Georgian in three sets in the Round of 16 in Sydney on January 12. The five-time Australian Open finalist Murray will look to once again oust the big-hitting Basilashvili in the first round of the 2022 Australian Open.

Murray, who is slated to face off against Aslan Karatsev in the finals of Sydney on Saturday, has played himself into form nicely ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year. Nikoloz Basilashvili, on the other hand, is 1-5 since reaching the Indian Wells Masters 1000 final back in early October. With that being said, these two launch missiles off of their racquet strings and should provide us with one of the most entertaining matchups of the first round.

Brandon Nakashima vs Matteo Berrettini (7)

Match Date: Monday, January 17th

H2H: 0-0

Best Australian Open Finish:

Nakashima: First Time Competitor

Berrettini: Fourth Round (2021)

Seventh seed Matteo Berrettini will look to continue his run of good form in Slams with an opening round matchup against young American Brandon Nakashima. Berrettini boasted a 1-2 singles record at last week’s ATP Cup, defeating Ugo Humbert while falling to Alex de Minaur and Daniil Medvedev. Nakashima seems to be in decent form having ousted Jiri Vesely and Fabio Fognini in straight sets before falling to Reilly Opelka in Sydney.

Brandon Nakashima moved himself from #170 to his current ranking of #68 over the past year and will not be stopping there. However, “The Hammer” Matteo Berrettini is a completely different beast. The Italian will be looking to avenge his Fourth Round withdrawal from last year’s Australian Open and take his game to a top-five level.

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Lorenzo Musetti vs Alex de Minaur (32)

Match Date: Tuesday, January 18th

H2H: 0-0

Best Australian Open Finish:

Musetti: First Time Competitor

de Minaur: Third Round (2019, 2021)

The 22-year-old Australian Alex de Minaur will face 19-year-old Italian Lorenzo Musetti for the first time in Round One of the 2022 Australian Open. With a 2-1 ATP Cup performance, the young Australian looks to be in fine form ahead of his home Slam. Musetti, on the other hand, had a disastrous second half of the 2021 season. After holding a 2-0 set lead on Novak Djokovic in the 2021 French Open Round of 16, the Italian dropped 16 of his next 22 matches, including a straight set loss to qualifier Taro Daniel at Adelaide 1.

Lorenzo Musetti has a very bright future and could seemingly turn his game up a notch at any time, but at the Australian Open against an Aussie does not bode well as a place to break out of a slump.

Dan Evans (24) vs David Goffin

Match Date: Tuesday, January 18th

H2H: Evans leads 2-0

Best Australian Open Finish:

Evans: Fourth Round (2017)

Goffin: Quarterfinals (2017)

The third meeting between Dan Evans and David Goffin will come in the first round of the Australian Open with the Belgian looking for his first victory over the Brit. Evans comes in with very fine form having won five of his six matches to begin the season. Goffin, who has struggled with injuries and on-court consistency over the past few seasons, should be pleased with his quarterfinal run in Sydney to open his season. Though he did retire during his quarterfinal match in Sydney, that looked to be out of an abundance of caution with the Australian Open on the horizon.

Goffin’s fitness will certainly be tested and I am just not sure if he has fully found his former world top ten form. Dan Evans has a sneaky chance to make some real noise in this tournament and I cannot imagine him coughing up that opportunity to the streaky Belgian.

Diego Schwartzman (13) vs Filip Krajinovic

Match Date: Tuesday, January 18th

H2H: 0-0

Best Australian Open Finish:

Schwartzman: Fourth Round (2018, 2020)

Krajinovic: Third Round (2019, 2021)

Should Novak Djokovic be removed from the tournament, the highest ranked Serbian in the field would be #39 Filip Krajinovic. This first round draw is brutal for both players as Krajinovic was just fives spots away from being seeded himself. “El Peque” Diego Schwartzman will look to continue his recent Slam success by starting off his campaign with a win over the Serbian.

Schwartzman has to like the way he opened up his 2022 season with a 2-1 record in the ATP Cup with wins over Tsitsipas and Basilashvili. Krajinovic also finished with a 2-1 ATP Cup record, though his wins were not nearly as impressive. Schwartzman is in very fine form dating back to late last season and will be a very hard out of this tournament.

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Reilly Opelka (23) vs Kevin Anderson

Match Date: Monday, January 17th

H2H: Opelka leads 1-0

Best Australian Open Finish:

Opelka: Second Round (2019, 2021)

Anderson: Fourth Round (2013, 2014, 2015)

American Reilly Opelka takes on South African Kevin Anderson for the second time in the battle of the “servebots”. The first matchup between these two came nearly six years ago and should not really be taken into account as Opelka was 18 at the time.

Opelka is 2-2 to start the season and has left something to be desired. Kevin Anderson lost his only match of 2022 in straight sets to Jaume Munar. These two players essentially mirror each other, with the American being the decade younger version. The game of a big server like Anderson typically ages well, though, it will be tough for him to beat someone who is currently more adept in most every aspect of the game.

Maxime Cressy vs John Isner (22)

Match Date: Tuesday, January 18th

H2H: 0-0

Best Australian Open Finish:

Cressy: Second Round (2021)

Isner: Fourth Round (2010, 2016)

An all American “servebot” matchup in Round One is a good way to steer the Australian crowd to other courts. With that being said, this matchup has all the makings of providing back and forth fireworks.

Two weeks ago, most would not have batted an eye at this matchup. However, Maxime Cressy has come into 2022 on a tear, rising from world number 112 to 71 after making the finals in Melbourne and quarters in Sydney. Contrarily, John Isner has dropped three of four matches to begin 2022, but has played a few three-setters. As a serve and volley player, Cressy can become very hard to beat when he is in form. With that being said, Isner should have a bit more fire under him given the battle between countrymen.

Main Photo from Getty.