Tough draw for Aussie hopefuls at US Open
Australia's Ash Barty, Daria Gavrilova and Nick Kyrgios could face big names early on in New York, while there are tough openers for Sam Stosur and James Duckworth.
Australia’s tennis stars have been handed tough paths at the US Open, following Thursday’s draw in New York.
Seeded big guns Ash Barty, Nick Kyrgios and Daria Gavrilova will need to pull out all stops to make a deep run at the season’s last Grand Slam, with all three facing early trouble.
Kyrgios opens against Moldovan Radu Albot for the right to play either Indian Yuki Bhambri or Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
Should Kyrgios win his first two matches, the enigmatic two-time major quarterfinalist would likely run into five-time champion and second seed Roger Federer in round three.
The Canberran is paying the price for falling down to 30th in the world rankings, a dip that left him all but certain of striking a top-eight rival in the round of 32.
Kyrgios has landed in a loaded bottom half of the men’s draw that also features sixth-seeded Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic in his quarter, as well as fourth seed Alexander Zverev and seventh seed Marin Cilic.
Countrymen Alex de Minaur, who opens against Japan’s Taro Daniel, and John Millman, who plays American wildcard Jenson Brooksby, are also in Kyrgios’s and Federer’s half.
Australia’s other direct entrants in the men’s event fared no better at Thursday’s draw.
James Duckworth was thrust into a showdown former world No.1 and 2012 US Open champion Andy Murray, the most accomplished player not seeded at Flushing Meadows.
Jordan Thompson also faces a Brit, rising left-hander Cameron Norrie, while Matt Ebden takes on Serbian 32nd seed Filip Krajikovic. Wildcard Jason Kubler has a rugged first-round clash with 19th Roberto Bautista-Agut.
Alex Bolt and Marc Polmans could give Australia more men in the main draw after they progressed to the final round of qualifying with three-set victories on Thursday.
Australia’s women also face a tough time making their mark in New York, with 2011 champion Sam Stosur drawn to meet world No.2 and reigning Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki in the first round.
After withdrawing from this week’s WTA event in New Haven with a virus, 18th seed Barty drew a qualifier for her opener, with dual Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza looming as a third-round obstacle for Australia’s highest-ranked player.
Daria Gavrilova, seeded 25th, plays Sara Sorribes Tormo, while compatriots Alja Tomljanovic and wildcard Lizette Cabrera go head to head, guaranteeing at least one Australian in the second round.
Jaimee Fourlis could make it six Aussie women in the main draw; the 18-year-old beat Olga Danilovic in the second round on Thursday and faces Anhelina Kalinina at the final hurdle.
The US Open main-draw action starts on Monday (Tuesday AEST).
Jason Kubler v 19-Roberto Bautista-Agut (ESP)
James Duckworth v Andy Murray (GBR)
Jordan Thompson v Cameron Norrie (GBR)
Alex de Minaur v Taro Daniel (JPN)
Matt Ebden v  Filip Krajikovic (SRB)
John Millman v Jenson Brooksby (USA)
-Nick Kyrgios v Radu Albot (MDA)
Lizette Cabrera v Alja Tomljanovic
Sam Stosur v  Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)
 Ash Barty v qualifier
 Daria Gavrilova v Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP)