It’s safe to say you’ll need some popcorn if Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic clash in the second round of next week’s Murray River Open.
The Aussies are two of the most captivating players on the ATP Tour. And if they both win their first-round match at Melbourne Park, they will play each other for the first time at tour-level. Kyrgios will play his first match since the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC last February against Alexandre Muller, and Tomic will face countryman Marc Polmans.
Top seed Stan Wawrinka, the World No. 3, faces a daunting section at the ATP 250. The Swiss will play one of two veterans — Juan Ignacio Londero or Mikhail Kukushkin — in his season opener. The first seeded player he could face is 14th seed Richard Gasquet, the former World No. 7, who owns a 2-1 lead in their ATP Head2Head series.
Also in the top quarter of the draw are sixth seed Taylor Fritz and 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic. Former World No. 3 Cilic, seeded 11th, will open his season against big-hitting Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in one of the draw’s most intriguing first-round matches. They have played six times previously, with Cilic leading their rivalry 4-2.
Third seed Felix Auger-Aliassime will begin his 2021 campaign against Quentin Halys or Yuichi Sugita. The #NextGenATP Canadian, who could battle Norwegian star Casper Ruud in the quarter-finals, is pursuing his first ATP Tour title.
Second seed Grigor Dimitrov, the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion, could get Australian revenge against 15th seed Tommy Paul in the third round. One year ago, the American outlasted Dimitrov in a four-hour, 19-minute five-set thriller at the Australian Open. The Bulgarian returned the favour at the US Open, where he triumphed in straight sets.
Fourth seed Borna Coric will begin his year against Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori or former Top 20 star Viktor Troicki, who will also be the Serbian captain in the ATP Cup.
First-round matches to watch include Corentin Moutet against Frances Tiafoe, 10th seed Adrian Mannarino facing Mikael Ymer and Thanasi Kokkinakis against Alex Bolt in a battle of Aussies who have overcome adversity throughout their careers.