Day 2 at the Australian Open – Aussie preview
It is a big day for the Australian players on day two at the opening Grand Slam of the season.
Two Australian women and seven men take to the courts at Melbourne Park.
Wildcards Jaimee Fourlis and Kimberly Birrell represent the women. Alex de Minaur, Jordan Thompson, Chris O’Connell, Thanasi Kokkinakis, (Q) Max Purcell, (WC) Alexei Popyrin and (Q) Aleksandar Vukic are playing in the men’s singles today.
Nick Kyrgios and Ajla Tomljanovic were both forced to withdraw due to knee injuries.
 Alex de Minaur (AUS) v [Q] Hsu Yu Hsiou (TPE)
Alex de Minaur has the night match on John Cain arena. He plays (Q) Hsu Yu Hsiou (TPE). This is probably a time slot that would have gone to Kyrgios. Hsu is the world no. 209 but often a qualifier can be a troublesome first round opponent.
Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) v Fabio Fognini (ITA)
Thanasi Kokkinakis has a tough opening round match against work no. 57 Fabio Fognini. Kokkinakis has fallen to world no. 159 after not being able to defend his points from the Adelaide title in 2022. The 26-year-old is playing more like a top-100 hundred player at the moment and he should go close to defeating Fognini.
“I’m going to leave it all out there,” vowed the Kokkinakis. “I’m definitely up and about.”
Jordan Thompson (AUS) v J.J. Wolf (USA)
[Q] Max Purcell (AUS) v Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN)
World no. 205 Purcell has qualified at the Australian Open for a second time and is feeling confident after sealing his spot without dropping a set. “I can’t see why I can’t do a bit of damage,” Purcell said of his main-draw chances.
Purcell had a great year in doubles in 2022. He teamed up with Matt Ebden to claim the Wimbledon title and the pairing also were runnersup at the Australian Open.
Purcell has stated that his main focus is now on his singles career so he is no longer playing with Ebden in the doubles.
The 24-year-old started 2023 with a quarterfinals appearance at the ATP Challenger event in Nonthaburi, Thailand.
[WC] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) v Tseng Chun-Hsin (TPE)
Popyrin had a dissapointing year in 2022. He started the year ranked at no. 61 and then matched his career-high of no. 59 in mid-January only to end the year at no. 120.
The no. 113 had a good week in Adelaide to start 2023 when he qualified and then upset world no. 6 Felix Auger-Aliassime in the first round. Popyrin would then defeat Marcos Giron before losing in the quarterfinals to Yoshihito Nishioka.
Popyrin has teamed up with former top-20 player from Belgium, Xavier Malisse.
“I learnt so much last year – in my personal life, and also my professional life. I think I’ve matured so, so much and it’s a really big deal for me to just stay grounded,” Popyrin said recently.
“Last year, coming off probably the best year I had on tour, coming off an ATP title, I probably got a little bit of a big head, got a little bit of cockiness, and last year just kind of put me [back] down to earth and kept me grounded.
“It’s honestly just take it one step at a time, learn from my mistakes which happened last year and go with the flow basically, so I’m just really trying to stay focused in the moment.”
Popyrin faces a beatable first round opponent in Chun-Hsin Tseng the world no. 115. The 21-year-old Chinese Taipai player was at a career-high no. 83 in August of 2022 and has started the 2023 season with back-to-back losses.
He ended 2022 playing at the NextGen ATP finals where he lost his three round robin matches.
The Taiwanese player won the ATP Challenger title in Bengaluru, India in February last year and also the Challenger title in Murcia, Spain in April.
The pair met at the 2022 US Open where Popyrin got the win in straight sets. Chun-Hsin has not won a match since a retirement win over Christopher O’Connell at the ATP250 in Seoul in early October.
Chris O’Connell (AUS) v Jenson Brooksby (USA)
A tough opening round matchup for the third highest ranked Australian male. O’Connell at no. 80 faces world no. 39 Jenson Brooksby (USA).
O’Connell got a few matches under his belt last week in Adelaide. He beat two Australians in qualifying for the Adelaide 2 tournament before losing the first round to world no. 35 Tommy Paul.
In the H2H it is O’Connell that has a 1-0 lead after his win in the quarterfinal of the San Diego ATP 250 event in 2022.
O’Connell chose to play a challenger event in Malaga, Spain instead of trying to qualify for Wimbledon. He put points over money.
An ATP Challenger title in Yokohama, along with two semi-final appearances before and after the title saw O’Connell leap into the world top-100
Brooksby goes into the match after a solid start to the season where he reached the semi-finals in Auckland at an ATP250 tournament. He lost to world no. 12 Cameron Norrie.
Brooksby is the heavy favourite going into this match but O’Connell is capable of an upset in front of a home crowd.
[Q] Aleksandar Vukic (AUS) v [Q] Brandon Holt (USA)
Vukic from Sydney qualified without dropping a set and faces fellow qualifier world no. 215 Brandon Holt (USA). “To qualify at any Grand Slam, but especially the Australian Open, it means a lot,” Vukic said.
The 24-year-old American is the son of former world No.1 Tracy Austin and is making his Australian Open debut.
[WC] Jaimee Fourlis (AUS) v Linda Fruhvirtova (CZE)
The Aussie wildcard faces 17-year-old Fruhvirtova, who is making her Australian Open debut. The world no. 82-ranked Czech is currently the youngest woman in the world’s top 100.
Fourlis had a solid year in 2022 and needs this win to continue her climb up the rankings.
Fruhvirtova has a title to her name after winning the WTA250 title at the Chennai Open in September. The Czech player also qualified for the 2022 US Open and then reached the round of 64.
The Czech’s big breakthrough came at the Miami WTA1000 event when as a wildcard she readched the round of 16.
Fourlis ranked at no. 160 started 2023 with two losses at the Adelaide International 1 and 2 as a wildcard.
The Czech player is expected to win this match.
[WC] Kimberly Birrell (AUS) v  Kaia Kanepi (EST)
Birrell is the first to take to the courts. The world no. 167 faces the no. 31 seed Kaia Kenepi. The Estonian is in good form and should prove too strong for Birrell.
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