Djokovic, Federer On Opposite Sides Of Australian Open Draw

Djokovic, Federer On Opposite Sides Of Australian Open Draw

MELBOURNE-Double defending champion Roger Federer will start his bid for a hat-trick of Australian Open titles next week against unseeded Uzbek Denis Istomin, who caused a huge upset when he defeated Novak Djokovic in the second round two years ago.

Now seeded 16th, Williams was drawn into the same section Thursday as No. 1-ranked Simona Halep, the runner-up here past year.

One of the standout matchups of the first round sees unseeded Nick Kyrgios' meet 2016 semifinalist and 16th seed Milos Raonic, with the victor of that contest going through to face either 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka or Ernests Gulbis.

No. 4 Alexander Zverev is in the same half and looms in the semifinals if both players advance that far.

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The six-times Australian Open champion Federer, who beat Marin Cilic in last year's final, could meet the Croat in the quarter-finals, should the Swiss come through a potentially tricky fourth round against Greek prospect Stefanos Tsitsipas. This year's edition of the season's opening Grand Slam in Melbourne Park begins Monday. But being so close, I'll give it a go.

Andy Murray has offered a fan a free ticket after apologising for his poor showing in a warm-up match with Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open.

Five-time Melbourne Park runner-up Andy Murray, on the comeback trail from injury, faces 22nd-seeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut in the first round.

The two had to leave the court to allow for the next practice session.

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Second seed and 2016 champion Angelique Kerber, bidding for a fourth Grand Slam title, will open against Slovenian Polona Hercog, with a possible quarter-final against 2017 U.S. Open victor Sloane Stephens in the second week.

Williams will face Tatjana Maria in the first round, and could meet either Genie Bouchard or Peng Shaui in the second.

Djokovic holds the slight edge, having won 25 to Federer's 22, and the Serbian hasn't lost to the 20-time Grand Slam champion since the 2015 ATP World Tour Finals. For me it's just taking it day by day, doing the right things, taking even better care of my body.

Konta is in a loaded top quarter of the draw that also includes world number one Simona Halep - who faces a rematch with her US Open conqueror Kaia Kanepi - Serena and Venus Williams, Garbine Mugurza and Karolina Pliskova. "I've had a great off-season and I feel very well prepared".

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