Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic could clash in a spicy first-time showdown between the Davis Cup sparring partners as opportunity knocks for Australia’s US Open hopes in New York.
Kyrgios, seeded 14th, and Tomic, the 17th seed, have been thrown on a third-round collision course but Friday’s draw at Flushing Meadows was otherwise a good one for Australia’s top two men’s players.
After drawing Andy Murray in the opening round last year and also falling to the eventual champion at Wimbledon, Kyrgios has finally been spared a confrontation with any of tennis’s so-called big four until at least the semi-finals.
Kyrgios will play British No.2 Aljaz Bedene on Tuesday (Wednesday AEST) for the right to challenge either Argentine Horacio Zeballos or German Florian Mayer in the second round.
Tomic also opens Tuesday (Wednesday AEST), against Damir Dzumhur, and will face either Croatian Ivan Dodig or Ukraine Illya Marchenko if he can see off the Bosnian dangerman.
Unbeaten against unseeded opponents in all 13 of his previous slams, Kyrgios fancies his chances of challenging for his maiden grand slam crown in the Big Apple.
“I only found that out recently. It’s a decent record,” Kyrgios told AAP.
“But I don’t pay too much attention to it. I’ve always known that if I’m in the game and switched on, I can beat anyone on any stage.”
Kyrgios is slated to strike world No.3 Stan Wawrinka in a possible last-16 grudge match – but Tomic looms large as a potential third-round roadblock.
The one-time US Open doubles partners have never clashed in singles and an intriguing match-up in New York would come six months after the pair engaged in a public verbal spat that played out on TV and social media.
Tomic accused Kyrgios of feigning illness to avoid a Davis Cup playoff with the USA in March, Kyrgios hitting back on Twitter.
The two have since settled their differences, with Tomic dubbing any perceived tension between the two as “silly” as the duo jostle for status as Australia’s top-ranked men’s player.
“Me and Nick are great friends off court,” Tomic said at Wimbledon.
“If Nick can be No.10 in the world and I can be No.5 or he can be eight and I can be 12, I’ve got to be happy with this.
“I respect him as a friend and as a person and as a tennis player.
“I don’t really see any competition between who’s No.1 and who’s No.2.”
John Millman has a tough first assignment against eighth seed Dominic Thiem on Tuesday (Wednesday AEST).
Australia’s women’s stars received mixed Open draws, with former champion Samantha Stosur taking on Italy’s world No.66 Camila Giorgi on Monday (Tuesday AEST).
Seeded 16th, Stosur is projected to meet world No.1 Serena Williams in a fourth-round rematch of their 2011 final at Flushing Meadows.
Daria Gavrilova plays 2015 French Open runner-up Lucie Safarova for a likely second-round shot at world No.4 Simona Halep, while young wildcard winner Ellen Perez makes her grand slam debut against Zhang Shaui.
WHO THE AUSSIES FACE AT THE US OPEN (PREFIX DEOTES SEEDING)
Men’s singles, first round
14-Nick Kyrgios v Aljaz Bedene (GBR)
17-Bernard Tomic v Damir Dzumhur (BIH)
John Millman v 8-Dominic Thiem (AUT)
James Duckworth v Robin Haase (NED)
Jordan Thompson v Dmitry Tursunov (RUS)
Women’s singles, first round
16-Samantha Stosur v Camila Giorgi (ITA)
Daria Gavrilova v Lucie Safarova (CZE)
Ellen Perez v Zhang Shaui (CHN)