Australian Open draw reveals who Kontaveit, Kanepi will play in round one

Kaia Kanepi (left) and  Anett Kontaveit.
Kaia Kanepi (left) and Anett Kontaveit. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Anett Kontaveit and Kaia Kanepi are both seeds at the Australian Open, starting next week in Melbourne, and also know who they will be facing in the opening round.

The draw for the main table was made early Thursday morning, Estonian time, ahead of the tournament – the first grand slam of the year – starting next Monday.

Kontaveit, seeded 16th, will face Julia Grabher (Austria, ranked 83rd in the world) in round one. The pair have never played competitively, and Grabher, 26, is making her first main table grand slam appearance.

Kaia Kanepi, seeded 31st, is to face Australian player Kimberly Birrell (WTA 166th) in round one. The pair have played once before, in 2018 in Brisbane, when Kanepi won in straight sets. Tournament organizers allowed Birrell to bypass qualifying.

The winner from the Kontaveit/Grabher match will face either Mayar Sherif (Egypt) or Magda Linette (Poland), while the victor of the Kanepi versus Birrell clash will face either 17-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova (Czech Republic) or local player Jaimee Fourlis.

If Kontaveit makes it as far as round three, she could face Ekaterina Alexandrova, seeded 18th and playing under a neutral flag, while an encounter with number four seed Caroline Garcia (France) could follow in the round of 16.

Kanepi could potentially face second seed and Wimbledon 2022 runner-up Ons Jabeur (Tunisia) in the third round, were she to progress that far.

Kontaveit and Kanepi's seeding positions at the Australian Open are one place ahead of their WTA rankings (Kontaveit is ranked 17th in the world, Kanepi, 32nd).

The reason for this is a temporary ban installed on world number 12 Simona Halep (Romania), who will miss the tournament as a result.

Since the two Estonians are both seeds, they cannot meet each other in the earlier rounds, and in fact, while they are both in the same half of the draw, they occupy opposite ends of that half, meaning the earliest, and only, point at which they could play each other would be the semi-finals, if they both made it that far (see tweet above).

World number one Iga Swiatek (Poland) is also top seed, and meets Jule Niemeier (Germany) in round one. In the men's, veteran Spanish player Rafael Nadal is top seed, as injury has forced his compatriot, Carlos Alcaraz, to miss the competition.

Played on grass, the Australian Open starts Monday, January 16.

Kanepi and Kontaveit have played each other competitively once, at last year's inaugural Tallinn Open (pictured), where Kontaveit emerged victorious.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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