Australian Open 2015 Draw: Complete Seedings and Bracket Analysis

Lindsay Gibbs@linzsports Featured ColumnistJanuary 16, 2015

Australian Open 2015 Draw: Complete Seedings and Bracket Analysis

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    At long last, it's time for the tennis stars to converge in Melbourne for the first Grand Slam of 2015. That's right, folks—the Australian Open is about to begin.

    There are always a ton of question marks surrounding the first Slam of the year since it's hard to tell what form any of the players are in, but this year there seems to be even more intrigue than ever as we head into the fortnight Down Under.

    Serena Williams is aiming for her 19th Slam as she tries desperately to chase down Steffi Graf in the history books, but stars such as Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic, Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep will all be trying to stop the American from winning her first Australian Open title since 2010.

    Meanwhile, on the men's side, Novak Djokovic will be trying to regain control of his most successful Slam after Stan Wawrinka knocked him off of his throne last year. However, an aging Roger Federer, a rusty Rafael Nadal, an unpredictable Andy Murray and a host of younger players will try to stop that from happening.

    It's time for American tennis fans to brew the coffee and set up camp on the couch, because there are going to be a lot of reasons to pull all-nighters over the next two weeks.

    Here's a full preview of the very exciting 2015 Australian Open draw:

Top Seeds

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    You can see a full list of the 32 men's and women's players here, and see the top 10 seeds in each draw below.

    Men

    1. Novak Djokovic
    2. Roger Federer
    3. Rafael Nadal
    4. Stan Wawrinka
    5. Kei Nishikori
    6. Andy Murray
    7. Tomas Berdych
    8. Milos Raonic
    9. David Ferrer
    10. Grigor Dimitrov

    Women

    1. Serena Williams
    2. Maria Sharapova
    3. Simona Halep
    4. Petra Kvitova
    5. Ana Ivanovic
    6. Agnieszka Radwanska
    7. Eugenie Bouchard
    8. Caroline Wozniacki
    9. Angelique Kerber
    10. Ekaterina Makarova

Men's Favorites with an Easy Draw

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    Novak Djokovic (No. 1)

    Djokovic loves it in Melbourne—if you have any doubts about that statement, just check out his four Australian Open trophies. He's trying to win his fourth title in five years, and he's lucked out with Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer on the other side of the draw.

    Djokovic starts his title defense against a qualifier, and the first seed he can face is Fernando Verdasco (No. 31) in the third round. He could face John Isner (No. 19) or Roberto Bautista Agut (No. 13) in the fourth round, and then Milos Raonic (No. 8) or unseeded Juan Martin del Potro in the quarters. He could face his Australian Open nemesis Stan Wawrinka (No. 4) in the semis.

    Rafael Nadal (No. 3)

    Look, there are a lot of questions surrounding Nadal as he comes back from injury once again, so an early loss at this Australian Open certainly wouldn't be a shock. But if he does fall early, the draw won't be to blame.

    Sure, he has a tricky first-round encounter against the veteran Russian Mikhail Youzhny, and he could face Lukas Rosol (No. 28)—who infamously upset him at Wimbeldon—in the third round, but Nadal will definitely have the upper hand in both of those matches.

    Then he could play Kevin Anderson (No. 14) in the fourth round and Tomas Berdych (No. 7) in the quarters. Mr. Federer potentially awaits him in the semis, but it's safe to say that if Nadal is playing well enough to get that far, he'll be the favorite.

Men's Favorites with a Tough Draw

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    Roger Federer (No. 2)

    Roger Federer starts his quest for Slam No. 18 against Yen-Hsun Lu, then could face tricky players Juan Monaco or Simone Bolelli in the third round. The first seed he could face would be Jeremy Chardy (No. 29), who beat him on clay last year.

    But the worst part about Federer's draw is that he potentially has Andy Murray (No. 6) in the quarters and his arch nemesis Rafael Nadal (No. 3) in the semis. That's a rocky road.

    Stan Wawrinka (No. 4)

    Last year's champion has a somewhat tricky road back to the final. He could be in danger against Aleksandr Dolgopolov (No. 21) or Fabio Fognini (No. 16) in the fourth round, and he could really struggle against Kei Nishikori (No. 5) or David Ferrer (No. 9) in the quarters. If he makes it that far, Nole could wait in the semis.

    Andy Murray (No. 6)

    Murray's draw is straightforward the first few rounds, but it gets tricky when he could face Grigor Dimitrov (No. 10) in the fourth round, and then Federer in the quarters and Nadal in the semis. That's pretty brutal.

Women's Favorites with an Easy Draw

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    Maria Sharapova (No. 2)

    There are plenty of reasons for Sharapova to rejoice as she looks at this draw. Her first seeded opponent would be Zarina Diyas (No. 31), and then she could get Shuai Peng (No. 21) or Lucie Safarova (No. 16) in the fourth. Eugenie Bouchard (No. 7) is her projected quarterfinal foe, and then Agnieszka Radwanska (No. 6) or Simona Halep (No. 3) could await in the semis. 

    There are some tough players in that draw, but Sharapova will likely be the favorite throughout.

    Simona Halep (No. 3)

    This year we'll find out whether Halep is a legitimate Grand Slam contender, and it all starts here in Melbourne with a manageable draw. Her first seeded opponent would be Sabine Lisicki (No. 28) in the third round, but Lisicki is rarely dangerous outside of Wimbledon. Her fourth-round opponent might be Sara Errani (No. 14).

    Then things would get trickier with an in-form Ana Ivanovic (No. 5) potentially awaiting in the quarters. A Halep/Ivanovic match with the winner getting Sharapova would be a treat.

    Agnieszka Radwanska (No. 6)

    It's time to see what Radwanska can do with Martina Navratilova in her camp. Her draw isn't easy, but it's not nearly as bad as it could have been now that she's outside of the top four.

    Radwanska's first test will likely come against Varvara Lepchenko (No. 30) in the third round. She then could get Venus Williams (No. 18) or Flavia Pennetta (No. 12) in the fourth round and Petra Kvitova (No. 4) in the quarters. She's in Serena's half of the draw.

Women's Favorites with a Tough Draw

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    Serena Williams (No. 1)

    Serena's clearly the favorite to win this title, but her draw isn't necessarily straightforward. She could face former world No. 2 Vera Zvonareva in the second round, rising star Elina Svitolina (No. 26) in the third round and Garbine Muguruza (No. 24) or Jelena Jankovic (No. 15) in the fourth round. Both Muguruza and Jankovic have defeated Serena before, Muguruza at last year's French Open.

    Then in the quarterfinals, Serena could draw her best friend Caroline Wozniacki, who nearly knocked off Serena three times in 2014. Her semifinal opponent could be Petra Kvitova (No. 4) or Agnieszka Radwanska (No. 6), and Victoria Azarenka is lurking in her quarter as well. There are land mines everywhere.

    Caroline Wozniacki (No. 8)

    The U.S. Open runner-up has the most brutal draw possible. She opens up against the great American teenager Taylor Townsend and then could face Sloane Stephens or Victoria Azarenka in the second round, two of the most dangerous unseeded players in the draw.

    Her third-round opponent could be Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (No. 25), who beat Wozniacki at Wimbledon last year), and last year's Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova (No. 11) could be her foe in the fourth round. If she makes it as far as the quarters, Serena will likely be waiting. Ouch.

Outlook for the American Men

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    Look, there's no way around it: It's likely going to be another rough tournament for the American men.

    The top dog, John Isner (No. 19), has the best shot at making it to the fourth round, but if he does get that far, Djokovic will likely be waiting. 

    Donald Young, who is on the rise, will likely face Milos Raonic (No. 8) in the second round.

    Sam Querrey opens up against Canadian Vasek Pospisil and then could play Alexandr Dolgopolov (No. 21) in the second round. His third-round opponent is Fabio Fognini (No. 16), and then Wawrinka would await in the fourth round.

    Stevie Johnson has a nice draw, up until he potentially plays Kei Nishikori (No. 5) in the third round, but for an unseeded player, that's not too shabby. 

    There's actually a possibility that all of these guys could win a few rounds, but don't book any of them past the fourth round. 

Outlook for the American Women

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    Outside of Serena, there are a lot of American women who could potentially make a run to the quarterfinals, beginning with her big sister Venus (No. 18).

    Venus is off to a good start to 2015 with a title under her belt, having beaten Caroline Wozniacki to win the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, on Jan. 10. She has a decent path to the fourth round, with her only seeded opponent being Flavia Pennetta (No. 12). She would face Agnieszka Radwanska (No. 6) in the fourth round, which is a winnable match for Venus.

    Also in her section are Americans Lauren Davis, who could face Venus in the fourth round, and Varvara Lepchenko (No. 30), who is slated to face Radwanska in the third round.

    American Madison Keys, who has Lindsay Davenport as her coach now, could potentially face Petra Kvitova (No. 4) in the third round. There are other unseeded Americans in that section as well, including Coco Vandeweghe, Irina Falconi and Madison Brengle. 

    Other unseeded American women who have winnable early-round matches are Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Alison Riske, Christina McHale and Nicole Gibbs.

    Sloane Stephens and Taylor Townsend got placed in the worst early-round part of the draw. Stephens opens up against Victoria Azarenka and Townsend starts with Caroline Wozniacki (No. 8), and the winners of those matches will face off in the second round.

Must-See First-Round Matches

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    Men:

    Grigor Dimitrov (No. 10) vs. Dustin Brown

    Rafael Nadal (No. 3) vs. Mikhail Youzhny

    Sam Querrey vs. Vasek Pospisil

    Kei Nishikori (No. 5) vs. Nicolas Almagro

    Juan Martin del Potro vs. Jerzy Janowicz

    Women:

    Sloane Stephens vs. Victoria Azarenka

    Caroline Wozniacki (No. 8) vs. Taylor Townsend

    Flavia Pennetta (No. 12) vs. Camila Giorgi

    Belinda Bencic (No. 32) vs. Julia Goerges

Wild Cards to Watch

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    Juan Martin del Potro

    This year, after spending the last 10 months on his couch nursing an injured wrist, the 2009 U.S. Open champion is unseeded and ready to wreak havoc on the draw. He is capable of beating anyone on tour when he is playing his best.

    Del Potro has a tricky first-round match against Jerzy Janowicz, but if he can make it through that, he could potentially take over Milos Raonic's quarter and find himself facing Djokovic in the quarterfinals. That would be a blast.

    Victoria Azarenka

    It's almost unfair to call a two-time champion of this event a wild card, but given her lack of match play due to injuries lately, and the fact that she's unseeded, that's the role she's currently playing in this event.

    Azarenka has a crazy draw, opening against Sloane Stephens and then potentially facing Caroline Wozniacki, but she is more than capable of making it through both of those matches. If she starts gaining momentum at this tournament, watch out.

Predictions for the Men's Tournament

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    Quarterfinals

    Novak Djokovic (No. 1) vs. Milos Raonic (No. 8)

    Stan Wawrinka (No. 4) vs. Kei Nishikori (No. 5)

    Rafael Nadal (No. 3) vs. Ernests Gulbis (No. 11)

    Roger Federer (No. 2) vs. Andy Murray (No. 6)

    Semifinals

    Djokovic vs. Nishikori

    Nadal vs. Murray

    Final

    Djokovic vs. Murray

    Winner

    Djokovic

Predictions for the Women's Tournament

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    Quarterfinals 

    Serena Williams (No. 1) vs. Caroline Wozniacki (No. 8)

    Petra Kvitova (No. 4) vs. Venus Williams (No. 18)

    Simona Halep (No. 3) vs. Ekaterina Makarova (No. 10)

    Maria Sharapova (No. 2) vs. Eugenie Bouchard (No. 7)

    Semifinals

    Wozniacki vs. Venus

    Halep vs. Sharapova

    Final

    Wozniacki vs. Halep

    Winner

    Halep