By Alessandro Mastroluca

  • Kyle Edmund meets the No.24 seed Dusan Lavovic aiming to extend his 3-0 lead in their head to heads
  • Dan Evans, the No.30 seed, will face American McDonald for the first time
MELBOURNE, Australia – Dan Evans and the 2018 semifinalist Kyle Edmund are the only Brits scheduled in the Day 1 in men’s singles at the Australian Open.

 

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Kyle Edmund v Dusan Lajovic [24] | H2H Edmund leads 3-0 (all levels)

 

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Kyle Edmund will make his debut against the No.24 seed Dusan Lajovic. In their best form, Edmund would clearly be the better player, as his 3-0 lead in the head to head testifies. Edmund beat the Serbian in a qualifying clash in Shanghai in 2016, in the Davis Cup quarter-final the same year, and in the last four in Beijing in 2018. The winner will face local wild card Marc Polmans or Kazakh veteran Mikhail Kukushkin, meeting for the first time.

The Brit had also a memorable run to the Australian Open semi-final in 2018, although he won just a single match in his four further appearances, in 2017. Lajovic, instead, has never moved past the second round in six tries in the opening Slam of the season. He looks like the underdog, but their performances in the first week of the year could radically change the scenario.

Edmund, the British No.3, seems to have lost his identity. He is still adding net skills to his forehand-dominated game. The World No.69 is evidently at his best when he swings from the hip and uses his forehand but will it be enough to beat a more confident opponent?

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The 25-year-old started the year off poorly with a first-round loss to Filip Krajinovic at the Qatar Open but made the quarter-finals of the ASB Classic losing to John Isner in two close tie-breaks. Lajovic, four years older than him, began the year in sparkling form, celebrating alongside Novak Djokovic his best success so far in the brand-new ATP Cup.

He performed tremendously well under the spotlight, despite his introverted personality, putting his body behind his serve to start the point from a neutral or an offensive position, relying on his athleticism on court. He knows how to wrong-foot his opponents, especially to the forehand. Such a strategy could help him equal his best performance in Melbourne.

Prediction: Lajovic in four sets

Edmund and Lajovic are scheduled second on Court 15, not before 1pm (2am GMT).

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Dan Evans [30] v Mackenzie McDonald | First Meeting

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Dan Evans, the No.30 seed, will meet for the first time Mackenzie McDonald. Earlier in 2019, the American upset Juan Martin Del Potro to claim his first ATP Tour semifinal at 2019 Delray Beach. He reached his career-high rank at No.57 last April before falling out of the Top 100.

The World No.132 earned his maiden tour-level win at the fifth try at 2018 Australian Open as a qualifier. He attended Piedmont High School in California, as former World No. 4 Brad Gilbert, and played college tennis at UCLA (2014-16), winning 2016 NCAA singles and doubles titles before turning pro.

His forehand, that he considers his best shot, could hardly save him against a stronger, more agile and complete player. Evans has every shot to dismiss him. He can serve out-wide from the deuce side and counter the attack-minded return of the American who aims to run inwards and shorten the points.

Evans is definitely more talented, he can open up the court and use angled trajectories to dictate play. McDonald, despite his agility, lacks the ability to quickly turn defence into offence in one or two ground-strokes.

The Brit No.1 is expected to win and meet in the second round the quick Japanese Yoshihito Nishioka or the unpredictable Serbian Laslo Djere.

Prediction: Evans in straight sets

Evans and McDonald are scheduled first on Court 14 at 11:00am (Midnight GMT).

 

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