Australia’s Wimbledon hopefuls have copped horror draws at the All England Club and none more so than Nick Kyrgios.
Australia’s brightest title prospect has been slated to meet second-seeded former champion Andy Murray in the fourth round following a first-week path littered with potential banana skins.
Promoted from 18th in the rankings to an all-important top-16 seeding, Kyrgios was guaranteed not to strike a top-eight rival until at least the fourth round.
But he would have been hoping for someone other than Murray, the 2013 champion, who boasts a four-from-four record at tour level over Australia’s 15th seed and 2014 quarter-finalist.
Kyrgios, though, will unlikely be looking beyond the first week.
He opens against wily Czech veteran Radek Stepanek who, despite his lowly ranking of No.121 in the world, remains one of the most-dangerous floaters in the draw.
The 37-year-old had Murray on the brink at two sets to love down at this month’s French Open and will relish the chance to get under Kyrgios’s skin.
In the second round, Kyrgios could face classy grasscourter Dustin Brown – famous for taking out Rafael Nadal and Lleyton Hewitt on previous trips to London’s SW19 – then a third-round showdown with 22nd seed Lopez and his booming left-handed serve.
Bernard Tomic, seeded 19th, will start against Fernando Verdasco, the tough Spaniard he edged out in three tight sets last week en route to the Queen’s Club semi-finals.
Tomic could strike dual grand slam champion and fourth seed Stan Wawrinka in the fourth round.
Sam Groth’s wretched luck at major draws in 2016 continued, with a first-round assignment against sixth seed Kei Nishikori.
Wimbledon rookie Jordan Thompson has also been presented with a challenging draw, up against 14th seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the opening round.
Samantha Stosur, Australia’s highest seed at No.14 in the women’s event, has also landed in a devilish section as she strives to reach the last 16 for the first time in 14 trips to the All England Club.
Stosur should see off Pole Magda Linette in her opener but former finalist Sabine Lisicki, her Czech nemesis Lucie Safarova and newly crowned French Open champion and second seed Garbine Muguruza lurking in the Australian No.1’s quarter.
Daria Gavrilova opens her tournament against China’s Wang Qiang, with the winner set to take on 14th seed Dominika Cibulkova in the second round.
WHO THE AUSSIES FACE AT WIMBLEDON (prefix denotes seeding):
Men’s singles, first round:
15-Nick Kyrgios v Radek Stepanek (CZE)
19-Bernard Tomic v Fernando Verdasco (ESP)
John Millman v Albert Montanes (ESP)
Jordan Thompson v Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)
Women’s singles, first round:
14-Samantha Stosur v Magda Linette (POL)
Daria Gavrilova v Wang Qiang (CHN)