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US Open first round preview: Alja Tomljanovic return a major boost

The singles draws for the US Open have been made and the inclusion of Alja Tomljanovic in the women's section is a welcome sight for all Australian tennis fans.

The 30-year-old is set to make her first appearance of 2023 at Flushing Meadows, having seen her year so far ruined by a long-term knee problem.

She has been drawn to face Hungarian Panna Udvardy in the first round in New York, with Daria Saville and Storm Hunter the only other Aussies in the main draw before the qualifiers are confirmed.

In the men's singles there is no Nick Kyrgios as he continues to be plagued by injury issues, leaving 13th seed Alex de Minaur as the main hope for Aussie success.

There is already the promise of Australian interest in round two as Max Purcell and Christopher O'Connell will face each other in the opening round.

WhatUS Open
WhereBillie Jean King NTC, Flushing Meadows, New York
WhenMonday 28th August - Sunday 10th September 2023
How to watch9Now & Stan Sport
OddsMen's - Novak Djokovic 2.20, Carlos Alcaraz 2.75, Daniil Medvedev 10.00
Women's - Iga Swiatek 3.25, Aryna Sabalenka 5.50, Elena Rybakina 8.00

Tomljanovic finally back in action

At the start of 2023, Tomljanovic would have been looking forward to enjoying another strong year, having reached the quarter-finals of both Wimbledon and the US Open in the previous season.

In doing so she became the first Aussie lady since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1979 to reach the last-eight at SW19 and Flushing Meadows in the same year.

However, knee problems destroyed much of the current campaign and expectations have to be tempered as she prepares to take on Hungarian Udvardy in her Flushing Meadows opener.

Tomljanovic is 1.66 to make it through to the second round, with only six places separating her and 2.20 Udvardy in the world rankings following her lengthy absence.

The pair have never met in a competitive match, so it is very much a case of wait and see what happens, with fourth seed Elena Rybakina a likely second-round opponent.

The other two Australian women in the draw, Saville and Hunter, have been handed vastly different tasks.

Saville will face American wildcard Clervie Ngounoue and is 1.44 to win, while Hunter takes on tenth seed and 2023 French Open finalist Karolína Muchova, with the Czech a heavy 1.10 favourite to make it through to round two.

All three Aussies are facing their opponents for the first time, so there is no previous form to look to.

De Minaur leads the way in Kyrgios' absence

With former Wimbledon finalist Kyrgios still sidelined, Aussie focus in the men's draw falls mainly on De Minaur, who was expected to enjoy a solid run at SW19, only to come up against another former runner-up, Matteo Berrettini, in round two.

That early exit somewhat dampened the optimism which had surrounded De Minaur after he made round four of the Australian Open at the start of the year.

He reached the last-eight at Flushing Meadows back in 2020, before losing his opener 12 month later and then went out to Pablo Carreno Busta in the third round last year.

De Minaur has been drawn to face a qualifier in round one and he is a 101.00 shot to become the first Aussie man to win the US Open title since Lleyton Hewitt back in 2001.

Alexei Popyrin and Thanasi Kokkinakis have also been paired with qualifiers for their Flushing Meadows openers, while Australian Open doubles champions Jason Kubler and Rinky Hijikata take on Italian Matteo Arnaldi and Russian Pavel Kotov respectively.

Jordan Thompson faces 2021 US Open quarter-finalist Botic van de Zandschulp in his New York opener, with the two players separated by just five places in the world rankings.

Finally, Aleksandar Vukic has been paired with a rejuvenated 12th seed Alexander Zverev in round one, with the German a massive 1.071 fancy to come out on top and 29.00 to go all the way and claim the US Open crown, having recently reached the semi-finals at the Cincinnati Masters.

Zverev lost the 2020 final at Flushing Meadows to Austria's Dominic Thiem after leading by two sets and injuries have hampered his efforts to secure a first Grand Slam title for much of the time since then.

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