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Australian Open: Roger Federer to launch title defence against Denis Istomin

10 January, 2019, 16:24 | Author: Candice Daniels
  • Nick Kyrgios I know what it takes to get to second week of a Major

Top seed Novak Djokovic, who like Federer is bidding for a record seventh title in Melbourne, will take on a qualifier.

"The Australian Open hasn't been the quickest of hard courts in the past couple of years, and if I was the tournament director, there is no way they wouldn't keep it that way because it favours [Nick] Kyrgios, most Australians, and definitely Federer".

Caroline Wozniacki, who won her first Grand Slam title in Melbourne a year ago after a tough final against Halep, is in the same section as Maria Sharapova and has Petra Kvitova at the top of her quarter.

The draw pits Federer and Nadal in the same half, opening up the potential for a semi-final meeting between the pair.

Second seeded Nadal begins against Australian James Duckworth, fourth seed Alexander Zverev faces Slovenian Aljaz Bedene while last year's runner-up Marin Cilic has a tricky encounter with Australian Bernard Tomic.

Murray was drawn against Bautista Agut after struggling against Djokovic on the Margaret Court Arena.

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A highlight first-round clash will see Australia's unseeded Nick Kyrgios up against Canada's big-serving 16th seed Milos Raonic, with the victor facing either Stan Wawrinka or Ernests Gulbis.

World number one Djokovic, who produced a strong comeback previous year, was the top seed of men's singles.

Venus Williams, defeated by younger sister Serena in the 2017 Melbourne final, also looms as a possible third round opponent for Halep.

"I'm so close, I'll give it a go", Federer said.

Three-time major victor Murray is on the comeback trail after missing 11 months with a hip injury which has seen him slump to 230 in the world.

It will be the first time for Wang to head into a Grand Slam as a seeded player.

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