The preliminaries are almost over and the main game is about to start.
It was an outstanding effort by Jason Kubler, who fought his way through the qualifying tournament with three decisive wins, including a straight set demolition of Pedro Sousa in the third round.
Sousa, from Portagul, is a former top-100 player and was responsible for Max Purcell’s early exit from the qualifiers. The fact that Sousa almost made it through gives some credence to Purcell’s form and current world ranking.
Similarly with our seeded qualifier, Aleksandar Vukic, who was beaten by Austrian Sebastian Ofner, once ranked 126 in the world, who made it through to the main draw.
Kubler’s win means that Australia has seven main draw contestants in the men’s singles to – hopefully – follow the progress of. Whilst a win by an Aussie appears unlikely, given a good draw and the required amount of luck, we may be looking at at least one player in the Round of 32.
Talking about “the luck of the draw”, it certainly was not with Jordan Thompson, one of our current players playing well and with third or fourth round results at the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open over the past three years.
In fact, whilst he has made the second round three times at the Australian Open, he has never progressed any further, making it his least successful grand slam.
At Roland Garros, Thompson has drawn No.1 seed Rafael Nadal first up so has the highest mountain of all the Aussies to climb.
Contrast that with the draw of our one seeded player, Alex de Minaur. Seeded only one position lower than our two seeds in the qualifiers, De Minaur plays Frenchman Hugo Gaston, who is playing his best tennis at the moment and will be a challenge, but if he can overcome the Frenchman and the home crowd, Demon will play a qualifier in the second round.
Australia’s wild card recipient, Chris O’Connell, will have his hands full with Slovenian Aljaz Bedene, five years his senior and with a former world ranking of 43. Bedene has an impressive record of performances over the past nine years in all of the grand slam events, including two third round performances at Roland Garros, whereas O’Connell has only one first round performance at the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open (and four Australian Opens with only one 2nd round performance).
Alexei Popyrin is another impressive young Australian who has achieved good results in all four slams in recent years, but he will need to be in his best form to counteract Fabio Fognini, the world number 52. Although now aged 34, the Italian from San Remo has been a quarter-finalist here before and also has two forth round results.
John Millman, who in five attempts has never advanced past the first round, has also drawn a seeded player in Sebastian Korda, the son of Petr Korda, who unlike his sisters Jessica and Nelly, chose tennis as his career and is ranked 27 at Roland Garros.
One player it is exciting to see back to his best form after a cruel run of injuries is Thanasi Kokkinakis, who will line up against Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain, but things don’t get any easier, as the winner is likely to meet the sixth seed, 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz from Spain in the second round.
James Duckworth will take on 23-year-old Swede Mikael Ymer who, after three good results in the first three slams last year, has trailed off a bit in the US and Australian Opens.