French Open draw not kind to Australian contingent

·3-min read

Alex de Minaur will begin his French Open against Belarusian world No.86 Ilya Ivashka but the draw has offered few favours for the rest of the Australian contingent in Paris.

De Minaur is Australia's only seed this year and will be bidding to win his opening match on the red dirt for only the third time after four first-round exits from his six previous campaigns.

If he gets past Ivashka, the world No.19 will meet either Brit Jack Draper or Argentine Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the second round.

With two wins, 18th-seeded de Minaur could potentially face either two-time finalist Dominic Thiem or 15th seed Borna Coric in round three.

In an rueful match-up, new Australian No.3 Max Purcell has drawn fellow Sydneysider Jordan Thompson for his opener.

In-form Chris O'Connell has also copped a wretched draw.

O'Connell, who was knocked out of the Geneva Open quarter-final on Thursday, opens against Japan's Taro Daniel, with the winner's "reward" a likely second-round clash with world No.1 and men's title favourite Carlos Alcaraz.

Wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis starts against British 20th seed Dan Evans, with former champion Stan Wawrinka possibly waiting in round two for the winner.

Jason Kubler and former French Open junior boys' champion Alexei Popyrin will both play qualifiers in the first round.

With a win, Kubler would meet either Canadian 10th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime or Italian veteran Fabio Fognini in the second round.

US 12th seed Frances Tiafoe would be Popyrin's likely second-round opponent.

Kim Birrell, the only Australian confirmed in the women's singles following Ajla Tomljanovic's official withdrawal hours before Thursday's draw with a knee injury, will play French wildcard Leolia Jeanjean in the first round.

Tomljanovic had been clinging to the hope of a return at Roland Garros but was never realistically going to make it, having not played since last last year's Billie Jean King Cup Finals in November.

Tomljanovic's scratching means Australia didn't have a direct entrant in the women's singles for the first time in the 55-year era of professional tennis.

Like Kokkinakis, Birrell was awarded a reciprocal wildcard in Tennis Australia's arrangement with the French tennis federation.

If Birrell wins her first overseas grand slam match, the 25-year-old Gold Coaster could play Swiss Olympic champion Belinda Bencic in round two.

Storm Hunter and Jaimee Fourlis are hoping to boost the depleted women's stocks, both one qualifying win away from making the main draw.

Hunter, largely a doubles specialist, plays American teenager Ashlyn Krueger in the final round of qualifying, with Fourlis up against French home favourite Fiona Ferro.


Men's singles

18-Alex de Minaur v Ilya Ivashka (BLR)

Max Purcell v Jordan Thompson

Jason Kubler v qualifier

Alexei Popyrin v qualifier

Chris O'Connell v Taro Daniel (JPN)

Thanasi Kokkinakis v 20-Dan Evans (GBR)

Women's singles

Kim Birrell v Leolia Jeanjean (FRA)