Many wouldn’t have expected Thanasi Kokkinakis to be back at the head of our Australian Open hopes, but his sparkling recent form makes him someone to be wary of.
Kokkinakis upset many in Adelaide, and enters the Melbourne Grand Slam in the form of his life.
Alex de Minaur has snuck himself into a seed and is flying under the radar with a favourable draw, while crowd favourite Nick Kyrgios is always ready to entertain at his home Grand Slam.
Play begins on Monday morning, with the whole world watching the first Grand Slam of the year.
The well-known Aussie character will be back against British qualifier Liam Broady in the opening round after an interrupted lead-up to his hometown tournament.
The 26-year-old hasn’t been able to play any of the lead-in tournaments to prepare due to a mixture of personal issues and a recurring left knee problem that ended his 2021 campaign early.
He also tested positive to Covid-19 in the lead-up, through is on track to take his place in the draw.
After five consecutive losses, the latter coming in straight sets against Stefanos Tsitsipas in September’s Laver Cup, Kyrgios headed back home to Canberra early to prepare for the Aussie Open.
His run won’t be easy at Melbourne Park this year, despite third and fourth round finishes in the last two years, he will face the second seed in Daniil Medvedev in the second round if he is to defeat Broady.
Best Australian Open result: Quarter-final (2015)
Chris O’Connell (WC)
The first of four Aussie men’s wildcards, O’Connell is also placed in the bottom sector of the draw, where he has been pitted against France’s Hugo Gaston in the first round.
The 27-year-old is ranked number 173 in the world. Just last week, O’Connell beat Italian Andreas Seppi in straight sets in the first round of the Sydney Tennis Classic, despite losing to compatriot Jordan Thompson in three sets in the round of 32 at the Melbourne Summer Set to start the year.
As a wildcard it naturally won’t be easy for O’Connell to progress far this year, but if he can get through his first round and then upset 13th seed Diego Schwartzman then he should expect to take on big-serving American John Isner in a massive third round clash.
Best Australian Open result: Second Round (2021)
One of the more popular Aussie men in this year’s draw, Millman enters the tournament at 32 years of age, meaning this could be one of his last hometown Grand Slams at Melbourne Park.
The gritty player may not be at his Roger Federer-beating best, having lost to a red-hot Thanasi Kokkinakis in straight sets at the Adelaide International last week, but expect him to be ready to cause some upsets in the first week in Melbourne.
Millman hasn’t won a singles bout since defeating Aslan Karatsev in St. Petersburg in October last year. But Millman will be looking to end his four-game losing streak – he takes on Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez in the first round, and then eyes a daunting date with third seed Alexander Zverev in the second round if he can progress.
Best Australian Open result: Third Round (2016, 2020)
Aleksander Vukic (WC)
Another Aussie wildcard, Vukic enters the Australian Open after a rich vein of form to end his 2021 campaign.
Vukic enters Melbourne Park ranked number 160 in the world, having won four of his five games to end the year when he made the finals of the Champaign tournament in America. Vukic started the year losing to American Steve Johnson in a tight three-set contest in the Adelaide International last week, as he’ll be looking to rebound with a defiant start to the Aussie Open.
Vukic takes on South Africa’s Lloyd Harris in the opening round, with a potential third round clash against either fellow Aussie John Millman or Germany’s Alexander Zverev on the cards if he can progress.
Best Australian Open result: First Round (2021)
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A highly regarded Aussie fighter, Duckworth will go around again in Melbourne for his 10th Grand Slam in his home country.
Duckworth dropped both of his games to start the year in the ATP Cup earlier this month, but will still be confident after a strong run home in 2021 with three wins in the ATM Masters 1000 in Paris that saw him reach the quarter-finals.
Duckworth takes on French veteran Adrian Mannarino in the first round, with a second-round date with 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz a possibility.
Best Australian Open result: Second Round (2012, 2013, 2015, 2021)
Thanasi Kokkinakis (WC)
Following his stunning Adelaide International win on the eve of the Aussie Open, Kokkinakis enters the Grand Slam as Australia’s most in-form male player.
Kokkinakis has knocked off the likes of Mikael Ymer and Frances Tiafoe en route to his round one match-up with German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann, with a potential round two date with sixth-seed Rafael Nadal on the cards for Kokkinakis.
Although Nadal is a big hill to conquer, it’s hard to put much past Kokkinakis with the form he is in.
Best Australian Open result: Second Round (2021)
Alex de Minaur (32)
Australia’s highest-ranked male is ready for another Australian Open assault.
The 34th ranked player managed to sneak into the final seed for the tournament, with wins against Matteo Berrettini and Ugo Humbert in the ATP Cup preparing him for the pressure of a home Grand Slam.
The Demon takes on Italian Lorenzo Musetti in the first round, with potential match-ups with Andreas Seppi and eighth seed Casper Ruud on the cards. De Minaur is in an open side of the draw, and could be set to progress far if he finds his form in Melbourne.
Best Australian Open result: Third Round (2019, 2021)
A well-known Aussie name, Thompson is back again for an Aussie Open bout.
Thompson has been in a decent vein of form, finishing with some wins in the final tournament of 2021 to set himself up for his home Grand Slam.
Thompson takes on American Steve Johnson in the opening round, and could take on 11th seed Jannik Sinner in a second-round blockbuster if he gets past the American.
Best Australian Open result: Second Round (2017, 2019, 2020)
Popyrin made a name for himself in the past few seasons with his ability to handle the pressure at Melbourne Park and beat some big names.
Popyrin now enters the Aussie Open with a win and a loss in Melbourne in the lead-up to the Grand Slam, having worked his way up to the 59th ranking in the world after some productive seasons.
Popyrin begins his campaign with France’s Arthur Rinderknech, and could take on 24th seed Daniel Evans in the second round. If he’s able to pass these challenges, he’ll most likely face Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime in a third-round clash to be remembered.
Best Australian Open result: Third Round (2019, 2020)
Alex Bolt (WC)
One of the more renowned wildcards, Alex Bolt is another popular Aussie who has made a habit of knocking off some higher-ranked opponents in Australian Opens gone by.
Bolt has only played the one match in 2022 – a loss to Argentina’s Juan Manuel Cerundolo in straight sets, but he still sits at rank 142 in the world heading into Melbourne Park.
Bolt starts with Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, and should face a stern challenge if he progresses to the second round, where Auger-Aliassime most likely awaits.
Best Australian Open result: Third Round (2019)
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