Top seed David Goffin has a bye in the first round of the Great Ocean Road Open, but he could face a stern test against a 17-year-old sensation in the second round.
Goffin, who reached the semi-finals of the Antalya Open to start his season, could play Carlos Alcaraz, the Newcomer of the Year in the 2020 ATP Awards. The Spanish teen, who earlier this year qualified for the Australian Open, will battle Hungarian Attila Balazs in the first round. Former World No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero coaches Alcaraz, who is already a three-time ATP Challenger Tour champion.
Alcaraz isn’t the only #NextGenATP star in the Great Ocean Road Open draw, though. Jannik Sinner, the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals titlist, will play veteran Yen-Hsun Lu or home favourite Aleksandar Vukic in the second round. Other players to watch in the Italian’s quarter are seventh seed Miomir Kecmanovic and two-time Australian Open quarter-finalist Tennys Sandgren.
There are several big hitters in the field, including second seed Karen Khachanov, who will open against 2020 Australian Open doubles finalist Max Purcell or Norbert Gombos. If the Russian wins his matches, there could be some tricky opponents in his path, with sixth seed Reilly Opelka, 16th seed Feliciano Lopez and former World No. 5 Kevin Anderson in his quarter.
Hubert Hurkacz got off to a flying start in 2021 when he captured the Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com title. The third seed will try to maintain his momentum in Melbourne, where he will play Pedro Martinez or Mikael Torpegaard in the second round. Eighth seed Alexander Bublik is also in his quarter. The Kazakh, who has become one of the flashiest players on the ATP Tour with his sizzling strokes and underarm serve, will open against Dominik Koepfer or Christopher O’Connell.
Two players who competed on the same college team, ninth seed Sandgren and John-Patrick Smith, will clash in the first round. At the University of Tennessee in 2011, Smith played No. 1 singles and Sandgren No. 3 singles. Both players have won ATP Tour titles, with Sandgren triumphing once in singles and Smith lifting a doubles trophy.
Other first-round matches to watch include 14th seed Pablo Andujar facing hot-shot machine Pablo Cuevas, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Maxime Cressy meeting in a battle of net-rushers, and 15th seed Vasek Pospisil playing lefty Thiago Monteiro.