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Australians cop rough French Open draws

Alex De Minaur of Australia plays a forehand shot in his Mens Final match against Andreas Seppi of Italy during day seven of the 2019 Sydney International at Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre on January 12, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)
25th September, 2020
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Australia’s French Open tennis hopefuls have been handed challenging draws for the clay-court grand slam starting on Sunday in Paris.

All three Australian women play seeds in the opening round, while men’s No.1 Alex de Minaur also faces a tough time progressing on the Roland Garros clay.

Seeded 25th following his inspired run to the US Open quarter-finals earlier this month, de Minaur starts against a qualifier and could run into world No.7 and Flushing Meadows runner-up Alexander Zverev in the third round.

Should he win his opener, de Minaur is guaranteed an Argentine in the second round, either Federico Delbonis or Juan Ignacio Londero.

The tennis gods have again been rough on 2018 US Open quarter-finalist John Millman.

Accustomed to daunting draws having struck some of the sport’s biggest names early on at the four grand slams, Millman will meet Pablo Carreno Busta, two weeks after the Spaniard reached the last four in New York for the second time.

Carreno Busta lost to Zverev at Flushing Meadows, having led two sets to love, after being Novak Djokovic’s opponent when the Serbian world No.1 was sensationally disqualified for accidentally hitting a lineswoman in the throat with a ball in the quarter-finals.    

Jordan Thompson, who made the last 32 in Paris last year, plays Radu Albot of Moldova, while fellow Sydneysider James Duckworth has drawn American Tommy Paul.

Young gun Alexei Popyrin, the 2017 French Open junior champion, is up against South African Lloyd Harris.

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Emerging talent Aleksandar Vukic has given Australia six men in the singles after qualifying for his maiden grand slam main draw.

The 24-year-old carved out an impressive 6-3 3-6 6-3 victory over American Jason Jung, the 16th seed, in the final round of qualifying to guarantee himself a life-changing payday of at least 60,000 euros.

Vukic will learn of his first-round opponent at the completion of the qualifying event.

But Marc Polmans fell in the final round of qualies, 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 to Brit Liam Broady. 

In the absence of world No.1 and defending champion, Ajla Tomljanovic will spearhead the Australian women’s assault at Roland Garros.

Tomljanovic plays Greek 20th seed Maria Sakkari in the first round.

Making her grand slam comeback from chronic foot injuries, former Australian No.1 Daria Gavrilova takes on Ukraine’s talented young 24th seed Dayana Yastremska.

Maddison Inglis faces Russian 27th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova.

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West Australian Astra Sharma is a win away from joining Tomljanovic, Gavrilova and Inglis in the women’s draw after advancing to the final round of qualifying with a 6-4 6-4 victory over Yuki Naito.

But Arina Rodionova lost 6-0 6-4 to former world No.2 and dual grand slam finalist Vera Zvonareva 6-0 6-4 in the second round of qualifying.

Who the Aussies play in the first round of the French Open starting on Sunday

Men’s singles, first round
25-Alex de Minaur vs qualifier 
John Millman vs Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP)
Alexei Popyrin vs Lloyd Harris (RSA)
Jordan Thompson vs Radu Albot (MDA)
James Duckworth vs Tommy Paul (USA)
Aleksandar Vukic vs TBC

Women’s singles, first round
Ajla Tomljanovic vs 20-Maria Sakkari (GRE)
Daria Gavrilova vs 24-Dayana Yastremska (UKR)
Maddison Inglis vs 27-Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS)

© AAP