Musetti, Alcaraz Chase Grand Slam Debuts In Doha
Seyboth Wild, Gaston also feature in qualifying draw
The Next Gen ATP Finals contenders will aim to reach the main draw at a Grand Slam for the first time, in just their second Grand Slam qualifying appearances. Musetti came within one victory of a place in the Australian Open main draw last year, but fell short with a straight-sets loss to Tallon Griekspoor.
Since then, the Italian has soared more than 200 positions in the FedEx ATP Rankings. During a breakthrough run on home soil last year, Musetti stunned Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, captured his maiden ATP Challenger Tour trophy in Forli and advanced to his first ATP Tour semi-final in Sardinia.
The 18-year-old, who is the second youngest player in the Top 200, will meet Botic Van de Zandschulp in his opening match. Musetti shares his section of the qualifying draw with 32nd seed Blaz Rola of Slovenia. Rola will face 2014 Roland Garros semi-finalist Ernests Gulbis of Latvia in his first match.
The only player younger than Musetti in the Top 200 of the FedEx ATP Rankings is Alcaraz. The 17-year-old Spaniard compiled a 20-3 main draw record in his final six Challenger events in 2020, which included three titles from four final appearances.
In one of the most exciting sections of the draw, third seed Aslan Karatsev will face #NextGenATP American Brandon Nakashima. Karatsev, a four-time Challenger finalist last year (2-2), and Nakashima are both aiming compete in the Australian Open main draw for the first time.
The winner of Karatsev and Nakashima’s clash will face #NextGenATP Frenchman Hugo Gaston or Max Purcell. On his Roland Garros debut last year, Gaston stunned three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka and pushed US Open champion Dominic Thiem to five sets. Purcell will attempt to qualify for his home major championship for the second straight year. In Melbourne at last year’s event, Purcell advanced to the doubles championship match alongside Luke Saville (l. to Ram/Salisbury).
In his second appearance in the qualifying draw, sixth seed Thiago Seyboth Wild will aim to qualify for the first time. The #NextGenATP Brazilian, who captured his maiden ATP Tour crown in Santiago last year, will meet Robin Haase in his first match.
Seventh seed Damir Dzumhur will attempt to compete in the Australian Open main draw for the sixth consecutive year. The three-time ATP Tour titlist shares his section of the draw with 31st seed Mohamed Safwat of Egypt.
Former Top 5 star Tommy Robredo is seeking his first Grand Slam main draw appearance since the 2018 US Open. The 2007 quarter-finalist will open his qualification bid against eighth seed Antoine Hoang of France.
Bernard Tomic will also face seeded opposition in his opening match. The 28-year-old, who made his most recent Grand Slam main draw appearance at Wimbledon in 2019, will face 14th seed Jozef Kovalik of Slovakia.
Istomin is one of only three players to have defeated eight-time champion Novak Djokovic in the past decade at Melbourne Park. The 6’2” right-hander outlasted Djokovic in five sets in 2017. Wawrinka and Hyeon Chung are the only other players to achieve the feat.