“Everyone here can play and everyone’s beaten everyone here at different stages … I’m confident coming in. I’m ranked where I am for a reason, and not to put any pressure on myself on the back of that, but I feel good.”Sam Groth
The draws for the Australian Open Play-off were conducted on Sunday, with several exciting match-ups set to light up the courts at Melbourne Park over the next week.
Sam Groth and Olivia Rogowska head the 16-player knock-out draws as the top seeds, with the action to commence on Monday 10 December.
You can catch live streaming of all the Play-off action from 10-16 December on tennis.com.au and the Australian Open YouTube channel.
Groth has drawn newly-crowned Optus 18s Australian Championships winner Nick Kyrgios, with the ITF junior world No.4 looking continue the form that saw him overcome Thanasi Kokkinakis in a torrid 18s final on Sunday.
Yet Groth comes into the play-off in a rich vein of form of his own, having shaved almost 600 places from his ranking in an excellent 2012 season to peak at a career-high ranking of No.210 in November.
“Everyone here can play and everyone’s beaten everyone here at different stages … I’m confident coming in. I’m ranked where I am for a reason, and not to put any pressure on myself on the back of that, but I feel good,” Groth said.
One thing the big-serving Victorian has been preparing himself for is the fact that for the first time in the play-off’s history, all men’s matches from the first round onward will be contested as best of five sets.
“I’ve done a lot of work over the last month trying to get ready for this … If you want to play in the Australian Open you’ve got to be able to play five sets,” he said.
“I think over the last couple of years a few guys have probably struggled with that – getting wildcards into the tournament and not being able to go the distance. So I think it’s a good initiative.”
John-Patrick Smith book-ends the draw as the play-off’s second seed – he will face Jay Andrijic in his opening match – while Matt Reid and Adam Feeney are seeded third and fourth, taking on Jacob Grills and John Peers respectively.
Another exciting match-up comes in the the form of sixth seed Luke Saville taking on fellow young-gun and friend Andrew Whittington.
One player who knows a thing or two about facing a friend across the net is Rogowska, who has drawn hitting partner Tammi Patterson in her opening match of the women’s event.
“Tammi and I have been practising the last couple of weeks, so it sucks to get her first round. But I’m just going to go out there and try to forget who I’m playing and going to try and play like I have been the last couple of weeks,” Rogowska said.
That form has seen Rogowska go 23-4 on the Australian Pro Tour post-Open, a run that has reaped two titles and another two finals appearances.
Yet another in-form threat in the draw is second seed Ash Barty, the prodigious teen who won last year’s play-off by defeating Rogowska in the final.
Since that time, Barty has risen more than 500 places to become the second highest ranked 16-year-old in the world, cracking the top 200 in November. The Queenslander takes on Ashey Keir in her first round match.
Rounding out the top four seeds are No.3 Monique Adamczak and No.4 Arina Rodionova.
Competitor list for the Australian Open 2013 Play-off
|1||216||Sam Groth||1||Olivia Rogowska||117||1|
|2||246||John-Patrick Smith||2||Ashleigh Barty||176||2|
|3||311||Matt Reid||3||Monique Adamczak||194||3|
|4||318||Adam Feeney||4||Arina Rodionova||248||4|
|5||324||Ben Mitchell||5||Bojana Bobusic||333||5|
|6||342||Luke Saville||6||Sally Peers||340||6|
|7||373||Greg Jones||7||Viktorija Rajicic||409||7|
|8||425||Matthew Barton||8||Jessica Moore||413||8|
|447||Michael Look||9||Azra Hadzic||440|
|646||John Peers||10||Tammi Patterson||580|
|746||Thanasi Kokkinakis||11||Storm Sanders||670|
|781||Andrew Whittington||12||Abbie Myers||686|
|827||Nick Kyrgios||13||Lizette Cabrera||788|
|1106||Jacob Grills||14||Ashley Keir||906|
|1148||Bradley Mousley||15||Naiktha Bains||978|
|1665||Jay Andrijic||16||Priscilla Hon||NR|