Bring on the French Open




The preliminaries are almost over and the main game is about to begin.

It was an outstanding effort from Jason Kubler, who fought his way through the qualifying tournament with three decisive victories, including a consecutive third-round demolition of Pedro Sousa.

Sousa, from Portagul, is a former top-100 player and was responsible for Max Purcell’s early exit from qualifying. The fact that Sousa almost made it lends some credence to Purcell’s form and current world rankings.

Likewise with our seeded qualifier Aleksandar Vukic, who was beaten by Austria’s Sebastian Ofner, once ranked 126th in the world, who qualified for the main draw.

Kubler’s win means Australia have seven men’s singles main draw contenders to – hopefully – monitor progress. Although an Australian win seems unlikely, given a good draw and the required luck, we could be looking at at least one player in the Round of 16.

Speaking of “luck of the draw”, it certainly wasn’t with Jordan Thompson, one of our current players who is playing well and with third or fourth round results at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and US Open. over the past three years.

In fact, while he made the second round of the Australian Open three times, he never progressed further, making it his least successful Grand Slam.

At Roland Garros, Thompson drew No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal first, so he has the highest mountain of any Australian to climb.

Compare that with the draw of our sole seed, Alex de Minaur. Seeded only one position below our two seeds in qualifying, De Minaur takes on Frenchman Hugo Gaston, who is playing his best tennis at the moment and will be a challenge, but if he can beat the Frenchman and the home crowd local, Demon will play a second-round qualifier.

Alex de Minaur plays a backhand in his Australian Open fourth round match against Jannik Sinner. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Australian wild card recipient Chris O’Connell will have his hands full with Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene, five years his senior and with a former world ranking of 43. Bedene has an impressive record of performances over the past nine years in all major slams, including two third-round performances at Roland Garros, while O’Connell has only one first-round performance at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open (and four Open of Australia with only one performance in the 2nd round).

Alexei Popyrin is another impressive young Aussie who has done well in all four Slams in recent years but will need to be at his best to counter world number 52 Fabio Fognini. Although now 34, the Italian from San Remo has already been a quarter-finalist here and also had two fourth-round results.

John Millman, who in five attempts never made it past the first round, also drew a seed in Sebastian Korda, the son of Petr Korda, who unlike his sisters Jessica and Nelly chose tennis as his career and is ranked 27 at Roland. Garros.

Thanasi Kokkinakis, who will face Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas, is thrilling to see his best form again after a cruel string of injuries, but things don’t get any easier as the winner is likely to meet sixth seed Carlos Alcaraz, 19, of Spain in the second round.

James Duckworth will face 23-year-old Mikael Ymer of Sweden, who, after three strong results in the first three Slams last year, has been a bit of a drag at the US and Australian Open.




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