Two of Russia’s best are in the same half of the Australian Open draw with Andrey Rublev and Daniil Medvedev playing their first round matches on day 2. Can both players get off to a winning start? Our panelists have predictions for every day 2 match including Marin Cilic and Andy Murray’s first round matches.
Andrey Rublev vs Gianluca Mager
Jakub Bobro: Rublev was one of the most directly affected players by the Djokovic visa situation as his draw was directly dependent on the outcome. Now we know that the fifth seed will remain in his original spot in the draw. The 24-year-old chose not to play any warm-up events, but carries in a four-match win streak from the Davis Cup. Mager has gone 2-2 for the season so far, beating Francisco Cerundolo, losing to Egor Gerasimov before exacting his revenge against the Belarusian a week later, but then falling to Karen Khachanov. Mager shouldn’t be a threat to Rublev if he plays his regular level but will provide him with stable rallies to play himself into form. Rublev in 3
Damian Kust: Gianluca Mager is not your typical clay-courter and someone who can play first-strike tennis in faster conditions as well. This is a real uphill battle though and he might just get overrun by the Russian’s forehand. Rublev in 3
Sebastian Baez vs Albert Ramos-Vinolas
Jakub: Baez will be making his slam main draw debut and though all of his Challenger-level success has come on clay, the early signs on hard courts are promising for the Argentine. The 21-year-old has already got wins over Marc Polmans or Christopher O’Connell this year in Australia with his record on the year being 4-3. His opponent, Spanish veteran Albert Ramos-Vinolas, will be a solid challenge for Baez. The Spaniard has a 3-10 record in Melbourne over his career, but far more experience at best-of-five. I believe Baez is at a point where he can overcome a challenger like Ramos-Vinolas. Baez in 5
Damian: Sebastian Baez keeps proving that he can take the ball earlier and experience success off-clay as well. At this point in their careers, he’s probably slightly more effective than Albert Ramos-Vinolas in quicker conditions. Baez in 4
Andreas Seppi vs Kamil Majchjrzak
Jakub: The 37-year-old Italian is likely coming into one of his final Australian Opens, the slam where has the best record of 21-16. Seppi has a record of 2-2 beating Bernabe Zapata Miralles and Sebastian Baez but losing to Alex Molcan and Christopher O’Connell. Facing him is currently-undefeated Pole Kamil Majchrzak, whose place in the tournament was threatened by a positive Covid test. Majchrzak is 3-0 on the season, though two of those wins came against opponents outside the Top 300. I expect quite a battle with Seppi pulling through in the end. Seppi in 5
Damian: Kamil Majchrzak has just went through COVID-19, so it’s impossible to tell where the Pole’s fitness and game will be. The Italian veteran might just sneak into another Grand Slam second round.
Seppi in 5
Daniil Medvedev vs Henri Laaksonen
Jakub: With Djokovic gone, Medvedev is the favourite for the title now and gets a nice draw to start. The 25-year-old started his season at the ATP Cup, where he defeated Matteo Berrettini, Alex De Minaur and Felix Auger-Aliassime but also lost to Ugo Humbert. Laaksonen is a decent player, comes into the first slam with a 2-2 record but is unlikely to provide much more than hitting practice. Medvedev in 3
Damian: Even after a less than ideal ATP Cup for Daniil Medvedev, it should only get better with each match he plays. Over a best-of-five format, Henri Laaksonen probably isn’t capable of this upset. Medvedev in 3