2024 Australian Open: Preview and Draw Analysis

published: Jan, 11, 2024

by: Amy Lundy

The 2024 Australian Open Draw Preview reveals a fairly uncomplicated but very intriguing draw for defending champion Novak Djokovic. It’s not necessarily a difficult path for Djokovic to capture his 11th Aussie title, but it’s a draw filled with old foes, familiar storylines and crackling drama.

It’s a slightly similar story for world number one Iga Swiatek, who drew 2020 champion Sofia Kenin in the first round, former finalist Danielle Collins, and 2016 titlist Angelique Kerber as possible matchups very close in her quarter. These backstories should make the early rounds more compelling than they might be otherwise.

To the breakdown!

Australian Open 2024 Draw Preview: Djokovic Quarter

After meeting a qualifier in Round 1, Djokovic could face Australian Alexei Popyrin, who typically punches a bit above his weight in his home country. Popyrin memorably knocked off Taylor Fritz in a 2nd-round, 5-set masterpiece last year. Circle this potential match.

Further along the line, Djokovic could face old rivals like Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka, but this isn’t 2014. It’s fun for nostalgia, but Novak has risen so far above those guys. Fritz and Ben Shelton lurk in the middle of this section, and while these Americans have managed to take sets off Novak, they haven’t beaten him.

The lower part of the quarter features some good dirtballers in Lorenzo Musetti and Francisco Cerundolo, but this ain’t clay. And finally, the section is anchored by two very fine tennis stars with a patchy recent injury history in Matteo Berrettini and Stefanos Tsitsipas. Djokovic crushed Tsitsipas in last year’s Australian Open Final. Again– interesting but not overly problematic.

With slight concerns over his wrist, it will be crucial for Djokovic to maintain efficiency with straight set wins wherever he can get them. This Australian Open 2024 draw preview gives him the opportunity to do that– at least in his quarter.

Australian Open 2024 Draw Preview: Sinner Quarter

A blooming (onion) rivalry between Djokovic and sleek Italian ball-striker Jannik Sinner holds the potential for a semifinal matchup at this year’s AO. (Note: I know that blooming onion is not actually an Australian dish, but it was made famous by Outback Steakhouse nonetheless.)

This quarter features some electric names like Francis Tiafoe, Alex De Minaur and Andrey Rublev at the bottom. It’s a fun section of the draw. It’s an easy walk for Sinner in the early rounds, but I wouldn’t mind a matchup between Jannik and Nicolas Jarry, the big-serving Chilean. My biggest hope for this section is that Rublev doesn’t smack himself with his racquet. De Minaur has started the year serving in top form and could be the spoiler in this section.

Australian Open 2024 Draw Preview: Medvedev Quarter

Russian stalwart Daniil Medvedev headlines the other half of this 2024 Australian Open draw preview. When last we saw Meddy in Grand Slam play, he suffered a bruising defeat to Djokovic in the US Open final. And he lost here badly to Novak in 2021, and the vast majority of these guys’ meetings are straight-set affairs, so it’s lucky they wouldn’t meet until the final.

Medvedev has a difficult draw. Why? Grigor Dimitrov has decided to play Top 10-caliber tennis for the first time in years, and he sits squarely in the center of this section. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina is a potential early-round match for Meddy– never an easy out. A Hubert Hukacz match could happen, and this is a good surface for his flat backhand. A Meddy-Hubie contest: Battle of the re-directors!

Finally, a guy who is better than his 8th seeding– Holger Rune– stands at the other end of this quarter. Rune and Medvedev have only met twice, and they each took a victory, but both meetings were on clay. With loads of personality and showmanship, there would lots to unpack there, so that’s the one I’m rooting for.

Australian Open 2024 Draw Preview: Alcaraz Quarter

Spanish sensation Carlos Alcaraz has a fairly pedestrian draw. Fans of Carlitos should not be overly concerned with a loss to De Minaur in a pre-tournament exhibition. That was just good fun, and it was actually the perfect warm-up for both players. Alcaraz chose not to play any run-ups Down Under, so a match against a quality opponent is the ideal prep.

Assuming he’s fully fit, Alcaraz should not see trouble in his opening round match against Richard Gasquet, nor in subsequent rounds against potentials such as Alex Bublik, Jan-Lennard Struff or Casper Ruud. (Tommy Paul could be interesting, in a battle of foot speed, though.) Alcaraz is 4-0 vs Casper, and this is the Norwegian’s least-favorite surface– a fast hard court.

Higher up in the quarter, though, Alexander Zverev sits as the 6-seed. Late 2023 showed us he’s back from the ankle injury. He’s striking the ball with tremendous confidence, but in Melbourne, much depends on the weather. In hot conditions, Zverev might struggle, especially if the early rounds tax him. But if things break his way, Zverev holds a winning record of 4-3 against Alcaraz, including their last meeting at the ATP Finals.

Players to watch:
QF: Djokovic, Sinner, Medvedev, Alcaraz
SF: Djokovic, Alcaraz
F: Djokovic

Australian Open 2024 Draw Preview: Women’s Singles

Iga Swiatek, a 4-time Grand Slam champ and the number one player in the world, has a testy draw. Not only does she have the aforementioned players with AO cred near her very early in this tournament, she could face the resurgent Ukranian Elia Svitolina in the 4th round. Swiatek and Svitolina have never met. Grand Slam champions Jelena Ostapenko, Victoria Azarenka and Marketa Vondrousova are also in this section. Not cake.

The next quarter features the seemingly fit Elena Rybakina. I like her game on this surface. My only concern is that Elena chose to play the week immediately before the Australian Open. If she goes deep in Adelaide, she could get tired. Be careful betting against Jessica Pegula, the 5-seed, who anchors this part of the bracket. Note: I don’t bet.

On the other side of the draw, we’ll see what Coco Gauff can do coming off her US Open title and a win in Brisbane last week. It’s a qualifier-heavy area in the early rounds for Gauff, but things could get complicated later with the solid Beatriz Haddad Maia, former champ Caroline Wozniacki and Maria Sakkari at the top. A Gauff-Woz match would be a blast.

Finally, defending champ Aryna Sabalenka has, in my opinion, the easiest draw of the top seeds. That’s ok– she’s earned it. Sabalenka has worked hard to maintain her authenticity both as a player and as a human being. She’s won me over, for sure. She has stayed true to her aggressive game, while reigning in the errors and the double faults. That’s really tough to do. Ons Jabeur is the other high seed in this quarter, but we have to wait and see if the scars of 2023 have healed for Ons.

Players to watch:
QF: Swiatek, Rybakina, Haddad Maia, Sabalenka
SF: Rybakina, Sabalenka
F: Sabalenka

Amy Lundy

Amy Lundy is a reporter whose work has been featured on ESPN, CNN and The Golf Channel. She is Director of Films at The Tennis Congress.

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