Nick Kyrgios’ potential second-round showdown with Rafael Nadal is the talk of Wimbledon.
While world No.1 Ashleigh Barty must negotiate her own treacherous path through the women’s field, it was Kyrgios’ possible grudge match that dominated discussion after Friday’s draw in London.
Barty will launch her title assault against world No.43 Zheng Saisai, with former champion and one-time world No.1 Garbine Muguruza looming as a major obstacle in round three.
Defending champion Angelique Kerber or seven-time winner Serena Williams are Barty’s projected quarter-final opponents.
Kyrgios will open against in-form compatriot Jordan Thompson with the reward for the victor a likely confrontation with 18-time grand slam champion Nadal.
Unseeded for the first time since his stunning win as a teenager five years ago over Nadal, It was barely two months ago that Kyrgios branded Nadal “super salty” in an extraordinary attack on some of tennis’s biggest names.
Kyrgios also dubbed Nadal’s uncle Toni “an idiot”, having infuriated Nadal while serving under-arm against the Spaniard in March en route to the title in Acapulco.
Fresh off his 12th French Open triumph this month, Nadal needs no added motivation to put Kyrgios back in his box, having hit out at Wimbledon officials this week over his seedings demotion.
The world No.2 was controversially relegated to third seed behind eight-time champion and world No.3 Roger Federer.
The two grand slam giants could square off in the semi-finals.
First, though, Nadal must get past Yuichi Sugita and then Kyrgios or Thompson.
While Kyrgios will be favoured to win his opener, the former quarter-finalist has won only one match this grass-court season, with Thompson six from seven and into this week’s Antalya semi-finals in Turkey.
Thompson will be anything but a pushover.
Alex de Minaur, Australia’s only seed in the men’s event, will open his campaign against Italian Marco Cecchinato.
Riding a 12-match winning streak, Barty is Australia’s first top seed since Lleyton Hewitt in 2003.
But, like most of Australia’s six-strong women’s contingent, the draw offered Barty no favours as she landed in a loaded top quarter.
Qualifier Arina Rodionova, playing American Taylor Townsend, was the only Aussie woman apart from Barty not to draw a seed in the first round.
Daria Gavrilova has the toughest assignment against eighth seed Elina Svitolina.
Ajla Tomljanovic plays 29th seed Daria Kasatkina, Astra Sharma is up against 27th seed Sofia Kenin and Samantha Stosur tackles 30th seed Carla Suarez Navarro.
WIMBLEDON FIRST-ROUND MATCHES FOR AUSTRALIANS
* 1-Ashleigh Barty v Zheng Saisai (CHN)
* Ajla Tomljanovic v 29-Daria Kasatkina (RUS)
* Daria Gavrilova v 8-Elina Svitolina (UKR)
* Astra Sharma v 27-Sofia Kenin (USA)
* Samantha Stosur v 30-Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP)
* 25-Alex de Minaur v Marco Cecchinato (ITA)
* Nick Kyrgios v Jordan Thompson
* John Millman v Hugo Dellian (BOL)
* Matt Ebden v 24-Diego Schwartzman (ARG)
* Alexei Popyrin v Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP)
* Bernard Tomic v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (ESP)