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Highlights from the Australian Open draw

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Originally published on: 11/01/13 00:00

Before this year, Pete Sampras and Martina Hingis were the last defending Australian Open champions to return to Melbourne as world No.1s in 1998. 

Five-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic is bidding to become the first man to win three consecutive Australian Open titles and the Serb managed to avoid his US Open final conqueror Andy Murray in his section of the draw after the Scot was placed in the bottom half along with 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer. Djokovic opens his campaign against Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu, who he boasts a 4-1 record against.

Federer will also be gunning for his own piece of history. If the 31-year-old is the last player left standing on January 27 he will become the first man to have won five Australian Open titles, matching Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert’s haul of 18 Grand Slam titles. He faces another Frenchman, Benoit Paire, in round one.

Murray is up against world No.54 Robin Haase in his opening match. The British No.1 has played the Dutchman on two previous occasions, losing to him once in 2008 in Rotterdam.

Crowd pleasers Gael Monfils and Alexandr Dolgopolov were paired together in arguably the pick of the first round ties. Elsewhere, home favourite’s Lleyton Hewitt and Bernard Tomic will take on No.8 seed Janko Tipsarevic and a qualifier respectively, countrymen and Olympic doubles silver medalists Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Michael Llodra face off and the age-defying Radek Stepanek was handed a tricky opponent in the form of Viktor Troicki.

On the women’s side, Azarenka was drawn in the same half as pre-tournament favourite Serena Williams. The five-time Australian Open champion crashed out in the fourth round in Melbourne last year but the in-form American has been handed a favourable draw at this year’s event, being pitted against world No.107 Edina Gallovits-Hall of Romania in her opening match.

Former Grand Slam champions Petra Kvitova and Francesca Schiavone meet in the pick of the women’s first round ties, while world No.2 and last year’s beaten finalist Maria Sharapova takes on little-known Russian Olga Puchkova. World No.10 Caroline Wozniacki would’ve been hoping for a favourable first round draw after falling at the first hurdle in Brisbane, but the Dane has been drawn against big-hitting German Sabine Lisicki, who she has lost to twice in their previous three match ups.

Aussie hopeful Sam Stosur will be looking to kick start her season against world No.84 Kai-Chen Chang after a disappointing start to the year. The WTA’s 2012 newcomer of the year Laura Robson faces American teen Melanie Oudin, while Fed Cup teammate Heather Watson takes on world No.89 Alexandra Cadantu of Romania in her first match of the tournament. 

The action kicks off in Melbourne on Monday, January 14. To view the full draw then visit the Australian Open website by clicking here.

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