Fourteen of the top sixteen seeds have safely made it to the round of 32 at the first grand slam of the year led by defending champion Novak Djokovic, six time champion Roger Federer, 2009 champion Rafael Nadal and the 2014 champion Stanislas Wawrinka.
Also joining them are Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev who are attempting to be the first player born in the 1990s to win a grand slam title. The eighth seeded Italian Matteo Berrettini came back from two sets down but lost in five sets to the American Tennys Sandgren.
On Wednesday, the seven time champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia beat the Japanese wildcard entrant Tatsumo Ito in the day session 6-1,6-4,6-2. His projected semi-final opponent Roger Federer beat Djokovic’s compatriot Filip Krajinovic 6-1,6-4,6-1 in the evening session barely breaking sweat on the Rod Laver Arena.
Rafael Nadal, bidding to become the only player in Open Era to win all four majors twice, struggled in the second set which was settled in a tie-break against the left handed Argentine Federico Delbonis but finished strong in the third set, winning his match on Thursday evening with a 6-3,7-6(4),6-1 win. Stanislas Wawrinka, seeded fifteenth took five sets to beat the Italian veteran Andreas Seppi 4-6,7-5,6-3,3-6,6-4.
Fourth seeded Daniil Medvedev tipped as the player with the best chance to win his maiden grand slam title beat the Spanish qualifier Pedro Martinez 7-5,6-1,6-3. Fifth seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem was pushed to five sets by the local wildcard Alex Bolt before coming through 6-2,5-7,6-7(5),6-1,6-2. Sixth seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas progressed without hitting a ball as the German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber withdrew with an injury.
Seventh seeded Alexander Zverev was 7-6(5),6-4,7-5 winner over Egor Gerasimov of Belarus. However, the eighth seeded Italian Matteo Berrettini was beaten by the American Tennys Sandgren 7-6(7),6-4,4-6,2-6,7-5. Sandgren had progressed to the Quarter finals two years ago in Melbourne beating the three time grand slam winner Wawrinka in the process.
The Spaniards Roberto Bautista Agut, Pablo Carreno Busta and the 2009 semi-finalist Fernando Verdasco also won in four sets. Ninth seeded Bautista Agut dropped the first set to the American wildcard Micheal Mmoh before winning 5-7,6-2,6-4,6-1. The 36 year old Verdasco also came from a set down to upset the 26th seeded Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili 4-6,7-6(5),6-4,6-4. Carreno Busta set up a third round meeting with Rafael Nadal after beating the German Peter Gojowczyk 6-4,6-1,1-6,6-4. The Frenchman Gael Monfils, seeded tenth took out the 40 year Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 4-6,7-6(8),6-4,7-5.
Eleventh seeded David Goffin, twelveth seed Fabio Fognini and the sixteenth seeded Karen Khachanov took five sets to progress. Goffin took out the Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-1,6-4,4-6,1-6,6-3; Fognini who had rallied from a two set deficit against the American giant Reilly Opelka in the first round, squandered a two set lead before beating the local hope Jordan Thompson 7-6(4),6-1,3-6,4-6,7-6(4). Sixteenth seeded Russian Karen Khachanov came within two points of defeat before staving off the Swede Mikael Ymer 6-2,2-6,6-4,3-6,7-6(8). The fourteenth seeded Argentine Diego Schwartzman beat the Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-1,6-4,6-2.
Other notable winners include the red hot Russian Andrey Rublev who has entered into the tournament with wins in Doha and Adelaide, the Americans John Isner and Taylor Fritz, Argentine Guido Pella, Australian Nick Kyrgios, the Serb Dusan Lajovic and Milos Raonic of Canada. Fritz, seeded nineteen beat the South African Kevin Anderson 4-6,6-7(5),7-6(4),6-2,6-2.
There were minor upsets as the Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, the Frenchman Benoit Paire, the Briton Daniel Evans and Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz exited in round two. The American Tommy Paul took a two set lead before Dimitrov fought back to force a decider, but the 22 year old Paul prevailed 6-4,7-6(4),3-6,6-7(3),7-6(3). The 2018 finalist and the 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic of Croatia who has fallen to 39 in the rankings from a career high three two years ago, took five sets to beat the Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-2,6-7(6),3-6,6-1,7-6(3).
Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka beat the 30th seeded Evans 6-4,6-3,6-4, while the Australian John Millman booked a meeting with Roger Federer after beating the 31st seeded Hurkacz 6-4,7-5,6-3. In a battle of unseeded players Hungarian Marton Fucsovics, the qualifier from Latvia Ernests Gulbis, Australian Alexei Popyrin and the American Sam Querrey advanced.
Following is the list of round of 32 matches with my pick mentioned first:-
Novak Djokovic (2) v. Yoshihito Nishioka (-)
Diego Schwartzman (14) v. Dusan Lajovic (24)
Marin Cilic (-) v. Roberto Bautista Agut (9)
Stefanos Tsitsipas (6) v. Milos Raonic (32)
Roger Federer (3) v. John Millman (-)
Marton Fucsovics (-) v. Tommy Paul (-)
Fabio Fognini (12) v. Guido Pella (22)
Sam Querrey (-) v. Tennys Sandgren (-)
Alexander Zverev (7) v. Fernando Verdasco (-)
Andrey Rublev (17) v. David Goffin (11)
Stanislas Wawrinka (15) v. John Isner (17)
Daniil Medvedev (4) v. Alexei Popyrin (-)
Dominic Thiem (5) v. Taylor Fritz (29)
Gael Monfils (10) v. Ernests Gulbis (-)
Nick Kyrgios (23) v. Karen Khachanov (16)
Rafael Nadal (1) v. Pablo Carreno Busta (27)
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: email@example.com]