Bernard handed tough opener at Australian Open
Bernard Tomic has copped a nightmare Australian Open draw, being thrust into a first-round confrontation with world No.1 Rafael Nadal.
Fellow Australian young gun Ash Barty has also drawn world No.1 Serena Williams in the women’s first round – but Sam Stosur and Lleyton Hewitt have fared reasonably well at Friday’s draw in Melbourne.
Stosur, the 17th seed, will open against Czech Klara Zakopalova – the same player she faces in the Hobart International semifinals on Friday.
Australia’s only seeded player at the season’s first Grand Slam event, Stosur could potentially meet Serb 14th seed Ana Ivanovic in the third round, if she wins her first two matches.
In-form Hewitt faces Italian 24th seed Andreas Seppi but, for once, has avoided an early-round showdown with the sport’s heavyweights.
Tomic was not so fortunate.
Nadal missed last year’s Open with a knee injury, but the 2009 champion finished 2013 in superb form, amassing 10 titles for the season.
Tomic’s only previous meeting with Nadal came in the third round of the 2011 Australian Open, which the Spaniard won in straight sets.
The 21-year-old Tomic bowed out of the past two Australians at the hands of 17-times Grand Slam champion Federer, who opens against young Australian wildcard James Duckworth.
Marinko Matosevic also drew a tough opponent, Japan’s 16th seed Kei Nishikori.
The winner of that match could potentially face Hewitt in the third round.
Former world No.1 Boris Becker, now coach of defending champion Novak Djokovic, said the Nadal-Tomic clash would be a must-watch encounter.
“There is never an easy match, but Bernard is playing well in Australia, against the No.1 player in the world, it will be something everyone is glued on television to,” Becker said.