Federer begins title defence

Federer begins title defence

 Roger Federer will open his Australian Open title defence against Slovenian Aljaz Bedene next week, while top seed Rafael Nadal, the losing finalist last year, was paired with Dominican Victor Estrella Burgos at the draw on Thursday.


Women's top seed Simona Halep of Romania faces Australian wildcard Destanee Aiava in the first round, with second seed Caroline Wozniacki starting out against Halep's compatriot Mihaela Buzarnescu.

Serena Williams will not defend the women's title having had her first child last year but 2008 champion Maria Sharapova, who failed a drugs test at the tournament in 2016, is back unseeded after a ban and will face Germany's Tatjana Maria.

Williams's sister Venus, who lost to her sibling in the final last year, is seeded fourth and the 37-year-old was handed a tricky first encounter against Swiss former world No 7 Belinda Bencic, who is 17 years her junior.

Men's third seed Grigor Dimitrov will face a qualifier, with Alexander Zverev, ranked fourth, playing Italian Thomas Fabbiano but with 2014 champion Stanislas Wawrinka, returning after surgery, in his section of the draw.

Young gun Zverev had little luck in his first Australian Open draw as a top five seed with either Wawrinka, who plays Ricardas Berankis, or Novak Djokovic potentially standing in his path in the quarterfinals.

Six-time Melbourne Park champion Djokovic, seeded 14th after missing the back end of last season with an elbow injury, will take on American lefthander Donald Young in his first match with mercurial Frenchman Gael Monfils looming in round two.

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