Top 10 Men Take Varying Paths to Australian Open

Rafael Nadal in action at the ATP Melbourne Summer Set.
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The world’s top 10 male players took varying paths to the first round of the 2022 Australian Open. With the year only two weeks old, these elite players already have diverse 2022 experiences. Observers wonder which playing choices will lead to deep runs in Melbourne.

#1 and #5 did not play

While media outlets and Twitter have covered his every move, word, and decision, world #1 Novak Djokovic has no 2022 match experience to report.  Neither Djokovic nor Eorld #5 Andrey Rublev chose to play any ATP level matches in the lead up to the Australian Open.  Djokovic finished a stellar 2021 campaign with a 55-7 record.  He last played on December 5; he will enter his first round match after a layoff of  more than a month.  Rublev also won more than fifty matches in 2021 but chose not to play any 2022 matches in preparation for the season’s first major.

Despite practicing and preparing for the tournament, Djokovic’s legal standing in Australia remains in flux. Pending last minute legal decisions, it is likely he will leave Australia with the same 0-0 record he owns now.

Most Played ATP Cup

Seven of the world’s Top 10 players chose to play for their country during 2022 ATP Cup competition.  World #2 Daniil Medvedev, #9 Felix Auger-Aliassime, and #10 Hubert Hurkacz logged more matches than any other player. Medvedev carries a 2022 record of 3-1 into Melbourne. His wins include victories over #7 Matteo Berrettini and Auger-Aliassime. Hurkacz also holds a 3-1 record. His knocked off world #13 Diego Schwartzman for his biggest win of the new year.

Auger-Aliassime played more matches than any other Top 10 player. The Canadian brings a 3-2 record to the first major. He played 12 sets in his five matches, he also carries a 3-0 record in tiebreakers after two weeks of 2022.

In other ATP Cup competition #3 Alex Zverev and #8 Casper Ruud both claimed two wins against one loss in the last two weeks.  World #3 Stefanos Tsitsipas split his two matches while #7 Matteo Berrettini arrives in Melbourne as the only top 10 players with a losing record. The Italian dropped a tough three set match to Medvedev and lost to world #34 Alex de Minaur while notching only one win.

Nadal Won his 89th Tournament

While most Top 10 players squared off in the ATP Cup, World #7 Rafael Nadal chose to shake off rust by playing the ATP 250 event held in Melbourne last week.  Nadal won his 89th Tour level event by knocking off three opponents ranked outside the world top 50. Nadal captured the trophy without dropping a set and brings his modest 3-0 2022 record to the season’s first major.

Now It is Slam Time

Now that the preliminaries are over, it is time to play Grand Slam tennis. Will match experience in early 2022 prove more beneficial than rest? Will the team atmosphere of ATP Cup play help more than tournament experience? The answers will come at Melbourne Park, Grand Slam tennis is back.

Main Photo from Getty.