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Australian Open draw: Novak Djokovic, Venus Williams face tough roads

Australian Open draw: Novak Djokovic, Venus Williams face tough roads

Serena Williams may not be around to defend her title this year but sister Venus will be looking to go one better to claim a fifth singles title Down Under.

Federer displayed that freedom previous year and Wilander believes that fellow Swiss Wawrinka, who ended last season in August with a knee complaint, could arrive with a similar attitude this time around at Melbourne Park.

Williams' quarter also includes fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina and 13th-seeded Sloane Stephens, who won last year's U.S. Open but has lost all seven matches she's played since. It doesn't get much easier, as he could face fourth seed Alexander Zverev as early as the fourth round.

No sooner has he returned to the bosom of Slovenia after failing to qualify for Great Britain in the Davis Cup than he draws Roger Federer in the first round of the Australian Open, which starts here on Monday.

The evergreen Swiss was a popular but unlikely victor upon his return from injury when he defeated Rafael Nadal in last year's final to claim his 18th grand slam title, before going on to triumph at Wimbledon in July.

Australian bad boy Bernard Tomic was fined a third of his £35,000 ($47,500) prize money for unsportsmanlike conduct at Wimbledon, after saying he felt "bored" and "couldn't care less" following a straight-sets defeat on day one.

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Top-ranked Simona Halep opens against Australian wild card Destanee Aiava, has a potential second-round match against 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard, and is in the same half as Garbine Muruguza, the Wimbledon champion.

"It even beats Wimbledon and all the other tournaments I won a year ago".

Djokovic - who was forced to skip the Mubadala World Tennis Championship and the Qatar Open, having not played competitively since withdrawing from the quarter-finals of Wimbledon in July - blitzed Dominic Thiem 6-1 6-4 in his comeback at the Kooyong Classic before losing to retired Australian Lleyton Hewitt in the Tie Break Tens exhibition event later on Wednesday.

Dimitrov remains one of the favoured contenders and, seeded third, has the luxury of facing yet-to-be-determined qualifiers in the first two rounds.

"Ranking points, player withdrawals and how we deal with that is something we've got to and are looking at", he told Fairfax Media in Auckland. "I certainly will hope I put myself in that position", Sharapova said.

Djokovic continued: "I'm still not 100 per cent".


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