MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (AP) - Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are on the same half of a Grand Slam draw for the first time since 2005, meaning defending champion and No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic won’t have to play either of his biggest rivals unless he reaches the Australian Open final.
They’re both in the same quarter as No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki. On the opposite side, five-time Australian Open champion and 12th-seeded Serena Williams is in the same quarter as former major winners Maria Sharapova, who is seeded No. 4, and Svetlana Kuznetsova.
But this time, if the players advance, Djokovic will meet Andy Murray in the semifinals. The pair met in the 2011 final, Murray’s second loss in the title match at Melbourne Park in back-to-back years after his 2010 defeat by Federer.
Djokovic was drawn to open against Paolo Lorenzi of Italy in the first round. Also in his section are Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt _ both former No. 1-ranked players who could meet in the second round _ and big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic. Fifth-seeded David Ferrer is also in his quarter.
Djokovic said it hadn’t escaped his attention that he avoided the No. 2 and No. 3 ranked men, who have 26 major titles between them, but that didn’t mean he was lowering his guard.
“It’s a Grand Slam, everyone has motivation. We can’t underestimate anyone,” Djokovic said.
Asked which players from outside the top four were most dangerous, he mentioned sixth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, another potential semifinal rival, Raonic and Australian teenager Bernard Tomic.
Nadal will open against a qualifier and could meet No. 7 Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals. Federer is in the same quarter as eighth-seeded Mardy Fish and Juan Martin del Potro, who beat him in the 2009 U.S. Open final.
On the women’s side, Wozniacki is still searching for a first Grand Slam title despite finishing atop the rankings the past two seasons. She opens against Anastasia Rodionova of Australia and is in the same quarter as Clijsters and Li.
Clijsters, who is coming off a hip injury that forced her to retire in a semifinal match at the Brisbane International last week, will face a qualifier in the first round.View Entire Story
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