The 2017 Australian Open begins in earnest on Wednesday, January 11 with the men’s qualifying tournament, with 13 Australians in the 128-player field chasing 16 qualifying spots in the main draw.
Czech 38-year-old Radek Stepanek, the top seed in qualifying, takes on Sekou Bangoura of the United States as he bids to reach the main draw at the Australian Open for the 14th time in his career. Bangoura, 25, is playing just his second Grand Slam qualifying draw after falling in the final round at last year’s US Open.
Frances Tiafoe, the American No.2 seed, faces Italy’s Marco Cecchinato for the first time, while Slovakian No.3 seed Jozef Kovalik opens against Argentina’s Marco Trugelliti, who won their main-draw encounter in the first round at Melbourne Park a year ago.
There could be an all-Australian second-round clash if Marc Polmans and Max Purcell can overcome tough opening matches. Polmans has been drawn against No.4 seed Yuichi Sugita of Japan, while wild card Purcell faces Russia’s Andrey Rublev, with the winners facing off for a place in the final qualifying round.
Polmans is one of four Australians drawn to face seeds in the first round, as wild card Alex Bolt takes on Romania’s Marius Copil, Marinko Matosevic faces Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain, and Luke Saville battles American Denis Kudla.
John-Patrick Smith will face Argentina’s Agustin Velotti, while Matthew Ebden has drawn Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan, having won their only previous encounter in 2013. Scott Jones, the national Under-18 champion, is up against world No.187 Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador, while fellow Australian wild card Bradley Mousley will face Marton Fucsovics.
There are 16 American players in contention for a place in next week’s Australian Open, with No.6 seed Bjorn Fratangelo’s clash with Slovenia Grega Zemlja and 18-year-old No.7 seed Stefan Kozlov’s showdown with Yuki Bhambri of India among the standout matches of the opening round.
Entry to Melbourne Park is free for the duration of the qualifying draw, gates open from 9.30am with play commencing at 10am.