Aussies handed mixed draws at French Open

Published by AAP

Nick Kyrgios has been handed a good draw at Roland Garros. Photo: Getty Images
It was a mixed day for the Aussies at the French Open, with Sam Groth facing the tough prospect of Rafa Nadal in the first round.

Nick Kyrgios has been handed a golden chance to make a deep run at the French Open following a favourable draw which has him avoiding the big three until the semi-finals.

The Australian world No.19, who will take on Italian Marco Cecchinato in the opening round, escaped early clashes with world No.1 Novak Djokovic, defending champion Stan Wawrinka and nine-time winner Rafael Nadal in the draw announced on Friday.

He may encounter a familiar face in the third round, however, where French ninth seed Richard Gasquet potentially awaits.

The pair have a chequered history, with Kyrgios winning an extraordinary Wimbledon clash in 2014 in which the then-19-year-old saved a record nine match points – before courting controversy 12 months later.

Kyrgios was forced to deny accusations of tanking against the Frenchman in a four-set loss at Wimbledon last year before being slugged $US9,500 ($A12,675) in fines for unsportsmanlike conduct during the match.

At the time, an angry Kyrgios told reporters Gasquet was simply “serving too good” after failing to return serve during one game in the loss.

Should he advance to the fourth round, Kyrgios would likely face fifth seed Kei Nishikori while a mouthwatering clash with two-time grand slam champion and ally on tour Andy Murray looms in the quarter-finals.

Australia’s top-ranked female Samantha Stosur will face dangerous floater Misaki Doi first up.

Stosur comes to Paris under an injury cloud, having withdrawn from the Strasbourg international with a left wrist injury, but has a fine record at Roland Garros where she is a former runner-up and two-time semi-finalist.

Should she progress past Japan’s world No.38, Stosur faces a potential third-round clash with 11th seed Lucie Safarova and fourth-round match-up with sixth seed Simona Halep.

Bernard Tomic has a fine chance to overcome his horror claycourt record, with the 20th seed drawing American comeback kid Brian Baker while avoiding a top-10 seed until a potential fourth round clash with Djokovic.

Meanwhile, Sam Groth will need to overcome enormous odds to reach the second round after he was matched with fourth seed Nadal.

“He’s uncomfortable first round. He’s a difficult one,” Nadal explained. “I’ve got to be ready for suffering a little bit during the match because I know it’s going to be difficult to have breaks.

“But I hope to stay focused mentally and to compete well.”

Meanwhile, John Millman didn’t get off lightly either, drawing big-serving 16th seed John Isner.

The news was better for wildcard Jordan Thompson, who has a qualifier first up.

Daria Gavrilova will take on Colombian world No.98 Mariana Duque-Marino in her first match, while wildcard Arina Rodionova is up against impressive Croatian teenager Ana Konjuh. Daria will be aiming to use her experience at the Australian Open to improve her chances in Paris.

“I learned [at the AO] that it’s not easy. You waste a lot of energy even outside the courts,” Gavrilova told AAP. “It’s a long week, even having a day off between matches is something different and not normally what I’m used to. I’d like to just keep going.

“Just having that one day off where you just train, I could do that better than I did at the Australian Open.

“I was a bit like ‘oh, I’m good’ and I lost my focus a bit.

“Hopefully, I’ll concentrate and try to get better every day, no matter if I’m playing or not.”

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