Tomic test for Nadal

Easy draw for Djokovic, Somdev to tackle Lopez

Tomic test for Nadal

World number one Rafael Nadal will battle the bad boy of Australian tennis Bernard Tomic and a partisan crowd in the first round at Melbourne Park as he bids for a 14th Grand Slam title.

The Spaniard dumped a teenaged Tomic from the 2011 tournament but will be wary of the former Wimbledon quarterfinalist who raises his game in front of home fans and has returned to form by making the semifinals in this week's Sydney International warmup.

"I think it's safe to say that's a night match," six-times Grand Slam champion Boris Becker, now coaching men's title-holder Novak Djokovic, said at the draw ceremony at Melbourne Park on Friday.

However, Nadal's run to the quarterfinals is tricky –  a potential third-round match against 25th seeded Frenchman Gael Monfils followed by a likely round four meeting with 16th seed Kei Nishikori of Japan among them.

Fifth seed and 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, the only player to break the "Big Four's" stranglehold over the Grand Slams in recent years, looms as a quarterfinal opponent.

Second seed Djokovic has been drawn in the much kinder lower half of the draw and will face Slovakia's 90th-ranked Lukas Lacko first up.

Wimbledon champion Andy Murray has been given no favours as he battles back from a back injury that put paid to the latter half of his 2013 season, drawn in the same quarter as 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer.

The Briton will play 112th-ranked Japanese Go Soeda in the first round but big-serving American John Isner, seeded 13th, shapes as fourth round clash ahead of a quarterfinal blockbuster with former world number one Federer. 

Coming off his most disappointing season in years, Federer faces Australian wildcard James Duckworth first with 10th seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga a likely tough fourth-round encounter. 

The women's draw elicited further groans for local fans, with world number one Serena Williams drawing rising Australian talent Ashleigh Barty in the first round.

Double defending champion Victoria Azarenka, seeded second, will take on Swede Johanna Larsson with the prospect of a fourth round match against rising American Sloane Stephens, seeded 13th. 

Third seed Maria Sharapova kicks off her bid for a fifth Grand Slam title against colourful American Bethanie Mattek-Sands. India’s top singles tennis player Somdev Devvarman will take on 26th seed Feliciano Lopez of Spain in the opening round.

Liked the story?

  • 0

  • 0

  • 0

  • 0

  • 0