Nick Kyrgios of the Australia Green team hits a return against Alexander Zverev of Germany during their first session men's singles match on day one of the Hopman Cup tennis tournament in Perth on January 3, 2016. AFP PHOTO / Tony ASHBY -IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO COMMERCIAL USE- / AFP / TONY ASHBY (Photo credit should read TONY ASHBY/AFP/Getty Images)

Which Aussies can advance to round two?

With the Australian Open beginning tomorrow, we preview every Aussie male’s first round match-up and their chances of progressing to the second round.

OMAR JASIKA vs Illya Marchenko (Ukraine)

Ranking (career high) 299(256) – 76(67)

Head to head: 0-0

Age: 28-18

Height: 5’11”- 6’1”

Titles: 0-0

Young prodigy Omar Jasika has received a wildcard into the Aussie Open and will face Ukrainian Illya Marchenko in the first round.

Left handed-right handed battles are always interesting, and it should certainly make dealing with Marchenko’s strong serve tougher for Omar.

Whilst Jasika is 10 years younger than his opponent, they are both inexperienced at the top level, with Marchenko never having made it past the second round of a Grand Slam.

Although his opponent is favoured to win this one, don’t be surprised to see Omar give Marchenko a good match. Expect him to at least take a set off the Ukrainian.

Tip: Illya Marchenko

NICK KYRGIOS vs Pablo Carreno-Busta (Spain)

Ranking (career high) 30(25) – 68(49)

Head to head: 1-0

Age: 20-24

Height: 6’4”-6’2”

Titles: 0-0

In what will be one of the more popular first-round matchups, young Aussie Nick Kyrgios takes on Spaniard Pablo Carreno-Busta.

The two have played once before – last year in Portugal – where Nick took the spoils in a tight three-setter.

Kyrgios’ game has come a long way since, whilst Carreno-Busta seems to have plateaued for the time being. Taking the Spaniard off the clay courts and out of his element may also prove decisive.

Bursting with talent, confidence and a flair for the dramatic, expect Nick to take this one relatively unharmed in about three or four sets.

Tip: Nick Kyrgios

Thomaz Bellucci (Brazil) vs JORDAN THOMPSON

Ranking (career high) 37(21) – 143(143)

Head to head: 0-0

Age: 28-21

Height: 6’2”-6’0”

Titles: 4-0

Jordan Thompson faces a tough assignment to get through the first round, as he’ll have to get through number one Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci.

The two have never met, and both posses strong serves and good forehands, which will make for an interesting matchup.

Bellucci’s experience should serve him well here. Whilst he has never won two matches in a row at the AO, he has been as far as the fourth round at the French Open.

Until he develops a bit further past the “prospect” stage, Jordan will no doubt struggle with the top players in the world. Don’t rule out an upset though, like what we almost saw from him a few years ago against Jerzy Janowciz.

Tip: Thomaz Bellucci

MATTHEW EBDEN vs Marcel Granollers (Spain)

Ranking (career high) 106(61) – 81(19)

Head to head: 1-1

Age: 28-29

Height: 6’2”-6’3”

Titles: 0-4

For most tennis fans, this one is not earmarked as “one to watch”. But don’t be fooled – this could be one of the better first-round matchups listed in this article.

From the stats, it is clear both players have seen better days – both once ranked much higher than they are now.

Their two prior meetings have been split – Matt won in 2012 in Sydney, and Granollers won the year later at the same venue, at the same stage.
While it is clear Granollers has played better tennis in the past than Ebden, both are not far from each other in the official rankings right now. At home and on his favourite surface, I’m going to back the Aussie in for the upset.

Tip: Matthew Ebden


Ranking (career high) 17(17) – 59(33)

Head to head: 3-1

Age: 23-29

Height: 6’5”-6’2”

Titles: 3-1

Bernard Tomic has started this year like a house on fire, and looks set to make his next victim Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin.

The two have played four times, with Bernard currently leading 3-1 (including a Davis Cup win). However, Istomin did take out their most recent meeting in Washington, 2014.

However under Tony Roche, Tomic has looked like a different player (and man). He looks far more composed, both on service and receiving, and still has the same shot making ability that got him where he currently is.

No player in the world right now (not even Milos Raonic or Teymuraz Gabasvhili) wants to face Bernie, and I would struggle to envision him losing this one.

Tip: Bernard Tomic

JOHN MILLMAN vs Diego Schwartzman (Argentina)

Ranking (career high) 92(71)-91(57)

Head to head: 0-0

Age: 26-23

Height: 6’0”-5’7”

Titles: 0-0

On paper, this match-up is the most even of the first round. The two sit just one spot from each other on the official ATP rankings.

However, their 2015s could not have been more different. While John rose up the rankings and finally came into his own, Schwartzman’s career went the other way, as he slowly lost some good ground he made the year before.

The two have never played, and it should be an interesting one – Millman has a big serve and is a power hitter, where Schwartzman is 5’7” and 64 kilograms when wringing wet.

Again, I am going to back the Aussie here, due to his superior form over the past year, as well as the home court advantage and ‘Millmania’ (Google it).

Adrian Mannarino (France) vs SAM GROTH

Ranking (career high) 48(27) – 67(53)

Head to head: 0-0

Age: 27-28

Height: 5’11”-6’4”

Titles: 0-0

These two players boast a similar story of late: both had breakout 2014s, went higher again in 2015, and saw a bit of a dip towards the back end of the year.

However, whilst Sam has started out the year fairly poorly, Mannarino took out a Challenger last week in New Caledonia.

The two have never played, but Mannarino has some impressive victories on his resume – Stan Warwinka, Juan Martin del Porto and countryman Gilles Simon.

He definitely has the game to challenge Groth – he’s a good returner and a good shot-maker. Considering their contrasting starts to the year, I’m going to tip the Frenchman to upset the Aussie crowd.

Tip: Adrian Mannarino


Ranking (career high) 132(82) – 297(1)

Head to head: 0-0

Age: 23-34

Height: 6’0”-5’10”

Titles: 0-30

It was with heavy hearts we found out on Friday that in his last Australian Open, Lleyton Hewitt would have to face compatriot James Duckworth in the first round.

The two have never played before, and no doubt Ducky will be honoured to play Lleyton in what may be his last ever match, but the situation is ideal for no-one.

The two are relatively similar sizes and play relatively similar games, but Lleyton’s experience is what may come up trumps in this one.

While Duckworth has the much stronger serve, he makes far more unforced errors, and I’m tipping him not to have enough miles in the legs to top Lleyton in “his” tournament.

Tip: Lleyton Hewitt