Australian Open 2014 Draw Results: Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray Stacked In Same Half
Rafael Nadal, the world's top-ranked tennis player, will have a tough road in his bid to rule the first grand slam event this year as he was drawn into a stacked half in the upcoming 2014 Australian Open.
Nadal, the top-seeded player in the tournament, was drawn on Friday in the same half as world's No. 4 tennis player Andy Murray, No. 5 Juan Martin Del Potro, and No. 6 Roger Federer.
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The 27-year-old Spanish tennis ace will not have an easy first round assignment as well. Nadal will go up against 21-year-old local favorite Bernard Tomic, who advanced to the second round of the tournament each year since his first appearance at the grand slam event when he was just 16 years old.
"I think that'll be a night match, for sure," said six-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker on the highly-anticipated Nadal vs Tomic showdown. "But a tough, tricky one for both players. Tomic will certainly have the home support."
Assuming Nadal gets past Tomic in the first round, his road to the title will not get easier. The 13-time grand slam champion will likely face No. 25 Gael Monfils of France in the third round, while 16th seed Kei Nishikori of Japan could be his fourth round opponent.
Del Potro, who is the only player outside of the so-called "Big Four" to win a grand slam in recent years, looms as the quarterfinal opponent of Nadal, who regained the No.1 ranking in October after his masterful performances in 2013, in which he bagged 10 titles after recovering from a knee injury.
Meanwhile, former world No.1 Federer will open his campaign against wild card qualifier James Duckworth.
Federer, who is coming off one of the most disappointing seasons of his storied career, will likely face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France in the fourth round, while Murray, who will go up against 112th-ranked Go Soeda of Japan, will likely be his quarterfinals opponent.
The 17-time grand slam champion, who, according to a Bloomberg report, is still the highest earner among tennis stars in the past 12 months despite his well-documented struggles, expressed confidence about his chances in this year's Australian Open.
"I probably trained harder in the off-season than all the guys ahead of me in the rankings," Federer told Independent UK.
On the other hand, while Nadal and Federer are anticipating a tough campaign in the tournament, defending champion Novak Djokovic was drawn into a lighter half, which includes world's No.3 David Ferrer and No.7 Tomas Berdych.
Even his new trainer, Becker, admitted that the opposite half is the tougher one, but Djokovic vowed to be at his best in his bid to rule the grand slam event for the fourth consecutive year.
"Regardless of the draw, the potential opponents that I have in later rounds, I need to direct my attention to my next opponent. There are plenty of players who are able to win the Australian Open this year or any other Grand Slam title," Djokovic told the Associated Press via ESPN.