Australia’s tennis aces have copped a Wimbledon draw from hell on an extraordinary day at the All England Club.
Australian No.1 Bernard Tomic and former champion Lleyton Hewitt in his Wimbledon swan song have borne the brunt, with Nick Kyrgios the only big gun handed any real relief.
Tomic could face world No.1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic in the third round, the earliest he could have possibly struck the Serb after being seeded 27th for the championships.
Hewitt will face tough Finn Jarko Nieminen in his opener, with victory almost certainly thrusting the 34-year-old wildcard into a second-round showdown with Djokovic.
Teenage ace Thanasi Kokkinakis has also landed in the treacherous top pocket of the draw with Hewitt and Tomic, who launches his title quest against Frenchman Jan-Lennard Struff.
Kokkinakis plays Argentina’s 24th seed Leonardo Mayer in his eagerly-awaited debut at the All England Club.
All up, nine of Australia’s 11 men in the singles were drawn in the top half.
Kyrgios, the 26th seed, fared best of Australia’s biggest singles contingent in 20 years.
Buoyed by his training session with seven-times champion Roger Federer on Thursday, Kyrgios will play unseeded Argentine Diego Schwartzman first up and has a real shot at emulating his run to the quarter-finals last year.
Seventh seed Milos Raonic, the Canadian who took Kyrgios out last year, is the 20-year-old’s first projected big danger in the third round.
Tomic’s nightmare draw comes as his father wages war with Tennis Australia’s head of player performance Pat Rafter, who has stopped funding the family because of John Tomic’s “intolerable” behaviour.
John Tomic is livid because TA won’t provide financial support for his 17-year-old daughter Sara, the world No.765 who won her maiden professional tournament last weekend in Egypt.
The feud has led to Bernard making himself unavailable for Australia’s Davis Cup quarter-final against Kazakhstan the week after Wimbledon.
“On which basis can he (Rafter) cut funding in Australia? It is not his private company,” John Tomic blasted after Rafter hit back in the war of words on the eve of the Wimbledon draw.
“It means money will (be) left in TA budget that he can use for his self and all administration.
“Why he did not cut TA administration (and) their high expenses overseas – hotels, first-class flight tickets, food.
“All of them taking wives and kids on TA expenses. Why he cutting grassroots?
“It means that he is in political situation that he doing how his bosses want. He don’t care for Australian tennis.”
Australia’s five-strong women’s contingent enjoyed a touch more luck than the men.
Samantha Stosur, the 22nd seed who has only progressed beyond round two twice in a dozen attempts, plays Montenegro’s world No.92 Danka Kovinic.
Stosur’s nemesis, French Open runner-up Lucie Safarova, lurks in the Australian No.1’s quarter.
Daria Gavrilova debuts against Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu, while Jarmila Gajdosova has a horror opener against 2013 finalist Sabine Lisicki, the biggest server in women’s tennis.
Casey Dellacqua meets Austrian qualifier Tamira Paszek and Ajla Tomljanovic opens her campaign against Czech Klara Koukalova.
Of the heavyweights, Djokovic has the most testing opener on paper against Philipp Kohlschreiber with Tomic and Hewitt undoubtedly hoping the classy German can spring a boilover.
British hope Andy Murray, the third seed eyeing a second Wimbledon crown, could face two-time champion Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals after the Spaniard was seeded 10th.
WHO THE AUSSIES PLAY AT WIMBLEDON (PREFIX DENOTES SEEDING):
Men’s singles, first round
26-Nick Kyrgios v Diego Schwartzman (ARG)
27-Bernard Tomic v Jan-Lennard Struff (GER)
Thanasi Kokkinakis v 24-Leonardo Mayer (ARG)
Sam Groth v Jack Sock (USA)
James Duckworth v Malek Jaziri (TUN)
Matt Ebden v Blaz Rola (SLO)
Lleyton Hewitt v Jarko Nieminen (FIN)
John Millman v 19-Tommy Robredo (ESP)
Marinko Matosevic v Liam Broady (GBR)
John-Patrick Smith v Kenny de Schepper (FRA)
Luke Saville v 21-Richard Gasquet (FRA)
Women’s singles, first round
22-Samantha Stosur v Danka Kovinik (MNE)
Daria Gavrilova v 29-Irina-Camelia Begu (ROM)
Jarmila Gajdosova v 18-Sabine Lisicki (GER)
Casey Dellacqua v Tamira Paszek (AUT)
Ajla Tomljanovic v Klara Koukalova (CZE)