Smooth draw for Novak Djokovic at Australian Open
Serb Novak Djokovic`s chances of winning a fifth Australian Open title have been boosted by a kind draw in the opening week of the year’s first grand slam, while women’s top seed Serena Williams kicks off her campaign against Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck.
Melbourne: Serb Novak Djokovic`s chances of winning a fifth Australian Open title have been boosted by a kind draw in the opening week of the year’s first grand slam, while women’s top seed Serena Williams kicks off her campaign against Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck.
World number one Djokovic faces a qualifier first up and will avoid the top 10 seeds until at least the quarter-finals, where he could meet number eight Milos Raonic
Reigning champion Stan Wawrinka, seeded fourth, faces a tougher route if he is to defend his crown.
The Swiss takes on 99th-ranked Marsel Ilhan of Turkey before a possible tricky fourth round matchup with 16th seeded Italian Fabio Fognini and a likely quarter-final against U.S. Open finalist Kei Nishikori.
Third seed Rafa Nadal has also been given few favours, with a dangerous opening round encounter with wily Russian Mikhail Youzhny, a former top-10 player, and a possible third round against Czech bogey-man Lukas Rosol, who shocked him in the second round of Wimbledon in 2012.
Second seed Roger Federer starts his Australian Open against Taiwan`s Lu Yen-Hsun, a former Wimbledon quarter-finalist, and could face 15th seed Tommy Robredo in the fourth round.
Sixth seed Andy Murray may feel the most aggrieved of the top contenders in the men’s draw.
Although playing a qualifier first up, the Scot could meet rising talent Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round with Federer to come in the quarters.
In the women’s draw, top seed Williams meets Van Uytvanck in the first round in her bid for a sixth title at Melbourne Park, and has no major danger matches until the quarter-finals, where a potential clash against Caroline Wozniacki looms.
Second seed Maria Sharapova will take on a qualifier as she aims for her second trophy after her 2008 triumph, with eighth seed Eugenie Bouchard a likely quarter-final opponent.
Simona Halep of Romania, ranked third and rated a dark horse to clinch her maiden grand slam, will take on Italian Karin Knapp first up.
Twice champion Victoria Azarenka is unseeded after her 2014 season was all but wiped out by injury and shapes as a dangerous floater in the draw.
She will clash with American Sloane Stephens in the first round before a potentially mouthwatering meeting with Williams in the quarter-finals.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)