Thursday, January 15, 2015

Nadal, Azarenka matches highlight Aussie Open draw

   Highlights of today's Australian Open draw:
MEN
   Best first-round matchup: Rafael Nadal (3) vs. Mikhail Youzhny. Nadal, the 2009 champion and last year's runner-up, is trying to rebound from health problems last year. He could be tested by Youzhny, a former top-10 player now ranked No. 47 at age 32.
   First-round matchups of top seeds: Novak Djokovic (1) vs. qualifier to be determined; Roger Federer (2) vs. Yen-Hsun Lu, Nadal (3) vs. Youzhny, Stan Wawrinka (4, defending champion) vs. Marsel Ilhan.
   Potential quarterfinal matchups: Djokovic (1) vs. Milos Raonic (8), Wawrinka (4, defending champion) vs. Kei Nishikori (5), Nadal (3) vs. Tomas Berdych, Federer (2) vs. Andy Murray (8).
   Potential semifinal matchups: Djokovic (1) vs. Wawrinka (4) in rematch of 2014 epic quarterfinal, Federer (2) vs. Nadal (3). 
   Potential final matchup: Djokovic (1) vs. Federer (2).
   NorCal connection: Sam Querrey (San Francisco native, former Sacramento Capitals veteran in World TeamTennis) vs. Vasek Pospisil (2014 Wimbledon doubles champion with Jack Sock) in first round. 
WOMEN
   Best first-round matchup: Victoria Azarenka vs. Sloane Stephens. Azarenka won the Melbourne title in 2012 and 2013, and Stephens reached the semifinals in 2013. Both slumped last year with injuries.  
   First-round matchups of top seeds: Serena Williams (1) vs. Alison Van Uytvanck, Maria Sharapova (2) vs. qualifier to be determined, Simona Halep (3) vs. Karin Knapp, Petra Kvitova (4) vs. qualifier to be determined. 
   Potential quarterfinal matchups: Serena Williams (1) vs. Caroline Wozniacki (8), Kvitova (4) vs. Agnieszka Radwanska, Ana Ivanovic (5) vs. Halep (3), Sharapova (2) vs. qualifier to be determined.
   Potential semifinal matchups: Serena Williams (1) vs. Kvitova (4), Sharapova (2) vs. Halep (3). 
   Potential final matchup: Serena Williams (1) vs. Sharapova (2).
   NorCal connection: Nicole Gibbs (2012, 2013 NCAA champion from Stanford) vs. Olivia Rogowska (won Sacramento Challenger last July) in first round. 

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