Rafael Nadal handed kind Australian Open draw as he avoids both Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem

Rafael Nadal will not have to face either Novak Djokovic or Dominic Thiem unless they meet in the final after being handed a kind Australian Open draw.

Nadal will start his campaign against Serbian Laslo Djere, although his path to the final could include a quarterfinal clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas and a semi-final against Daniil Medvedev.

The draw hasn’t been very kind to Novak Djokovic, with former champion Stan Wawrinka, Alexander Zverev, and Dominic Thiem all potentially standing between him and what would be a ninth Australian Open title.

Medvedev, meanwhile, has fellow-Russian and ATP Cup teammate Andrey Rublev in his quarter.

There will also be a number of eye-catching first round matches including Jannik Sinner v Denis Shapovalov, Marin Cilic v Grigor Dimitrov, Matteo Berrettini v Kevin Anderson, and Kei Nishikori v Pablo Carreno Busta.

The women’s side of the draw is no less competitive, with Serena Williams potentially facing a blockbuster quarterfinal against Simona Halep, with Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek also in that quarter of the draw.

Bianca Andreescu and Noami Oaska, who have three US Open titles between them, could meet in the semi-finals, with Petra Kvitova, Garbine Muguruza, and Angelique Kerber in the same section of the draw.

World number one Ashleigh Barty will likely be breathing a huge sigh of relief, though, with Karoline Pliskova looking her greatest threat before a final, while defending champion Sofia Kenin will be wary of Elina Svitolina, who she could meet in the last four.

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