Djokovic starts Australian Open defence against Mathieu
Updated: 2013-01-11 17:48
MELBOURNE - World number one Novak Djokovic will kick off the defence of his Australian Open title with a first round tie against unseeded Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu after the draw was made for the first grand slam of the season on Friday.
Seeking a hat-trick of titles, Djokovic has a relatively smooth draw in the tournament starting at Melbourne Park on Monday until the top seed faces a potentially dangerous quarter-final against fifth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych.
Four-time champion Roger Federer will also play an unseeded Frenchman when the second-seeded Swiss meets Benoit Paire in his opener with a fourth round clash against big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic likely to provide his first major test.
U.S. Open champion Andy Murray will start his campaign against unseeded Dutchman Robin Haase but the third-seeded Briton is likely to have one eye on Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro, who looms as a possible quarter-final opponent.
In the women's draw, Serena Williams will start her bid for a sixth Melbourne title against Romania's Edna Gallovits-Hall, with a potential quarter-final clash against former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova awaiting her in the draw.
Top seed and defending champion Victoria Azarenka's dream run of title could have come to an abrupt halt less than 10 days before she opened the defence of her Melbourne title when a pedicure infected the big toe on her right foot.
Yet her Rather than risk aggravating the injury, the 23-year-old withdrew from her Brisbane International semifinal against Williams, just 30 minutes before they were due on court. And Critics suggested the move may have been tactical.
Azarenka plays another Romanian, Monica Niculescu, while second seeded Russian Maria Sharapova opens against compatriot Olga Puchkova.