2019 AUSTRALIAN OPEN
MEN'S, WOMEN'S DRAWS REVEALED
Ashley Marshall | January 10, 2019
Could Serena Williams' chase for historic Grand Slam title No. 24 be thwarted by her big sister? Will John Isner and Reilly Opelka play the tallest match in tennis history? Will Team USA's numerical advantage lead to Americans lifting silverware on Championship Sunday? Those are just a few of the questions set to be answered at the 2019 Australian Open.
The official draw ceremony took place Thursday in Melbourne Park, with 14 American women and 13 U.S. men randomly placed into the 128-player fields.
The 27 American players are the most of any nation. Host Australia ranks second with 19, while Spain has 15 representatives.
In the women’s draw, the headline for U.S. tennis fans is in the top half, and specifically in the top quarter, which includes Serena and Venus Williams, world No.
1 and 2018 Aussie Open finalist Simona Halep, former US Open champion Sam Stosur and former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard.
Serena, seeded 16th Down Under, begins her quest for her record-tying 24th Grand Slam women’s singles title against Tatjana Maria of Germany, with the winner set to face either Bouchard or wild card Shuai Peng.
Venus, meanwhile, starts against No. 25 seed Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania and could meet world No. 1 Halep as early as the third round. But Halep, who has played just three tournaments since September’s US Open and who fell to Ash Barty in Sydney this week, may have to first get past rising American Sofia Kenin. The world No. 56, who turned 20 years old in November after making her Fed Cup debut for Team USA in the Czech Republic, will play a qualifier in the first round.
Eight of the past 16 Australian finals between 2003 and 2018 have been contested by at least one Williams sister. And should the Williams sisters each win their first three matches this year, they would play one another for the 31st time in their careers, for the 17th time at a major and for the fourth time at the Australian Open.
Serena (pictured above) won the two most recent matches in the 2003 and 2017 finals, with Venus winning their first-ever match against one another in the second round in 1998. But while Serena, on paper, is the more likely of the sisters to reach the fourth round unscathed, her path to major title No. 24 – which would tie Margaret Court’s all-time mark – is far from easy.
The 37-year-old could potentially meet Stosur or No. 23 seed Carla Suarez Navarro in the third round and No. 7 seed Karolina Pliskova in the quarters – assuming she prevails in the Round of 16 against the likely winner of Venus and Halep. Then there’s the mouth-watering prospect of a US Open rematch against Naomi Osaka in the semifinals, although No. 6 seed Elina Svitolina is another potential hurdle to clear if she plays deep into the second week.
Also in the top quarter of the women's draw is Madison Brengle, who will play a qualifier in the first round for the opportunity to face former US Open finalist Pliskova or another qualifier in Round 2.
In the second quarter – headlined by reigning US Open champ and No. 4 seed Osaka – American wild-card recipient Whitney Osuigwe will face a qualifier in Round 1 and either 13th-seeded Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia or Mona Barthel of Germany in Round 2.
Osuigwe won the USTA Australian Open Wild Card Challenge on the heels of clinching her first pro title in Tyler, Texas, in November.
Madison Keys, the No. 17 seed, begins against Australian wild card Destanee Aiava. Should Keys progress to the third round, a marquee matchup with Svitolina, who matched her career-best finish with a quarterfinal run in Melbourne 12 months ago, could be on the cards.
Looking at the bottom half of the draw, Amanda Anisimova, the only American in defending Aussie Open champion Caroline Wozniacki’s quarter, will play Monica Niculescu in Round 1. That leaves seven other U.S. women drawn in the final quarter.
2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens was drawn in the same section as No. 2 seed and 2016 US Open winner Angelique Kerber. Stephens, the No. 5 seed, faces fellow American Taylor Townsend in the first round.
Alison Riske will play No. 9 seed Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands; Danielle Collins will face No. 14 seed Julia Goerges of Germany; and Bethanie Mattek-Sands will meet Australian wild card Zoe Hives. Sachia Vickery and Bernarda Pera were each drawn against qualifiers.
The men’s draw is equally exciting, with John Isner opening against countryman and fellow giant Reilly Opelka. There's also the possibility of a Wimbledon semifinal rematch between Isner and Kevin Anderson in the fourth round and then Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals.
Isner and Opelka, each listed at 6-feet-11 inches tall, are two of nine U.S. men in the bottom half of the men’s draw.
In all, five U.S. men were drawn in No. 2 seed Nadal’s quarter. As well as Isner versus Opelka, No. 31 seed Steve Johnson will square off against Andreas Seppi of Italy, and Denis Kudla will play Aussie wild card Marc Polman, with the winner likely to face 18th-seeded Diego Schwartzman in the second round.
Frances Tiafoe is the lone American male to draw a qualifier in the first round, and he could meet No. 5 seed and US Open finalist Anderson in the Round of 64.
That leaves four American men in No. 3 Roger Federer’s quarter: Mackenzie McDonald, Michael Mmoh, Tennys Sandgren and Taylor Fritz.
McDonald begins against Andrey Rublev of Russia, while Mmoh meets Radu Albot of Moldova. Sandgren will face Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan and could play No. 10 seed Karen Khachanov in Round 2, while Fritz will open against former Texas Christian University collegiate star Cam Norrie of Great Britain.
In world No. 1 Novak Djokovic’s quarter in the top half of the draw, there is just one American: Ryan Harrison, who will play Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic in the first round, with the winner likely to meet No. 15 seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia in Round 2.
Further down the top half of the draw, three American men are featured in fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev’s quarter. Wild card Jack Sock, who earned the reciprocal berth with Tennis Australia by virtue of reaching the quarterfinal of the ATP Paris Masters in November, will meet Aussie wild card Alex Bolt; Bradley Klahn will play No. 24 seed Hyeon Chung of South Korea; and Sam Querrey will open his campaign against Pierre-Hughes Herbert of France. Should Klahn and Querrey each advance, they would meet in the second round.
An American has not contested the men's final in Melbourne since Andre Agassi defeated Rainer Schuettler in 2003, but Isner will be considered among the contenders after a strong 2018 campaign that saw him win the Miami Open – his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title – and reach at least the quarterfinals of consecutive majors in London and New York.
There are 16 spots reserved for qualifiers in each of the men’s and women’s draws. Six American women are still in contention in the Australian Open Qualifying Tournament, with at least one U.S. woman assured of a main-draw spot since No. 23 qualifying seed Varvara Lepchenko faces countrywoman Christina McHale on Friday. Four U.S. men remain in the men’s qualifying tournament.
The bottom halves of the men’s and women’s main draws play their first-round matches Monday (Sunday night going into Monday morning in the U.S.), leaving the top halves to begin play Tuesday.