Few first-round blockbusters … except Venus v Coco

ADELAIDE, Australia – You always hope for some must-see TV (or must-see live in person) matches in the first two days of a Grand Slam.

But after the men’s and women’s singles draws were revealed Thursday evening in Melbourne, the upshot is that the draws seem fairly well distributed with few early upset possibilities.

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Until, of course, they actually play the matches.

EXCEPT ONE: Coco Gauff will meet Venus Williams in the first round.

End quote.

The two met in the first round of Wimbledon this year – kicking off a long period of Coco-Mania that has ebbed and flowed since then.

If Gauff was abashed by that victory, she may not be now. And Williams, who had planned to play during the Australian summer, has not.

Her last match was a three-set loss to Rebecca Peterson in the first round of a WTA event in Tianjin more than three months ago.

Another American, Frances Tiafoe, finds himself up against it as he tries to defend a quarterfinal result with a first-round meeting against … No. 4 seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia.

Osaka, Serena a final-eight clash

On the women’s side, Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams are in the same quarter. Which is most unfortunate. But both would have to get there for there to be an epic second-week clash.

Here are the four quarters of the 2020 Australian Open women’s draw

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Potential quarterfinals

[1] Barty vs. [7] Kvitova

[3] Osaka vs. [8] Williams

[4] Halep vs. [6] Bencic

[2] Pliskova vs. [5] Svitolina

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Defending champion Naomi Osaka chats during the Australian Open draw ceremony Thursday in Melbourne (AO – YouTube)

Men’s draw kind to Canadians

On the men’s side, the burning question in this era is about which two of the big three will end up in the same half.

For this Australian Open, it’s Djokovic and Federer who take the honours.

Despite a tough first round against Jan-Lennard Struff, it’s hard to see Djokovic being beaten by anyone in his section until he (potentially) comes to Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Nadal may not have a “Big Three”, but he has some challenges. He could face good friend Pablo Carreño Busta in the third round, and either Karen Khachanov or Nick Kyrgios in the fourth.

Thiem, Monfils and Auger-Aliassime are all in his quarter.

The worst-case scenario for the Canadian men in the draw is actually the best case: it would be Vasek Pospisil facing Félix Auger-Aliassime

But only in the third round. Which means both would reach the third round.

Pospisil gets Ivo Karlovic to start; Auger-Aliassime gets a qualifier.

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The quarter with Daniil Medvedev and the struggling Alexander Zverev also has Stan Wawrinka, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and the in-form Andrey Rublev.draw

Uncle Roger and the kids

Federer has some young guns in his section – the surging Hubert Hurkacz as the No. 31 seed, and then possibly Denis Shapovalov – or Jannik Sinner, in the fourth round.

Matteo Berrettini, who is coming into this Australian Open pretty cold, is the other top seed in his quarter.

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