Federer and Nadal on collision course in Oz open draw


Top-ranked Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep, as expected, have been given the No. 1 seedings for next week's Australian Open.

Should Djokovic, a six-time victor at Melbourne Park, beat an as-yet-unknown qualifier, he could face wild card Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the next match, with Denis Shapovalov a possible third-round opponent and Kei Nishikori potentially awaiting in the last eight.

World No 4 Alexander Zverev is in the same half and a blockbuster semi-final looms if both players advance that far.

The Swiss faces Denis Istomin in the first round, while a potential quarter-final against Marin Cilic and semi-final versis Rafael Nadal awaits the third seed, with world No 1 Novak Djokovic in the other half of the draw.

But defending champion Federer is especially good on the hard courts Down Under.

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

But, he noted before heading out to practice after attending the tournament draw with his trophy, "the moment you find out the draw, that's when you shift your focus to the first round and only the first round".

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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.

Andy Murray will make his return to the Australian Open with a tough first-round match against Roberto Bautista Agut.

The Spanish 22nd seed defeated Djokovic on his way to the title in Doha last week while concerns about Murray's fitness grew as he struggled through a practice match against Djokovic at Melbourne Park on Thursday. Murray played at the season-opening Brisbane International last week, where he won his first-round match against James Duckworth but lost in straight sets to Daniil Medvedev in the second, limping between points and admitting he's still dealing with his troublesome right hip.

Halep, however, may be reluctant to look beyond the first round, having drawn her U.S. Open nemesis Kaia Kanepi.

This year's edition of the season's opening Grand Slam in Melbourne Park begins Monday.

Asked if he ever doubted about his comeback, Wawrinka - who underwent a double surgery in August 2017 - said: 'I did think a few times that I may not be able to come back to my old self, old level. "I'm just enjoying every minute of it". "I feel like these courts are suited for me, so it's incredible to be back".