10 Jan 2014

Tough draw for Aussie youngsters

News Article

Bernard Tomic (AUS) and Ashleigh Barty (AUS)

The draw for this year's first Grand Slam event has been unkind to two of the residents of its host nation.

Ashleigh Barty and Bernard Tomic will both be ruing their luck after being handed the respective women's and men's No. 1 in the first round of the Australian Open.

Barty takes on Serena Williams in what is sure to be an entertaining match with the crowd firmly supporting the home favourite and Tomic against Rafael Nadal represents a re-match of the 2011 clash at Melbourne Park.

The Australian 21-year-old will be hoping that a full house on Rod Laver Arena, in what is more than likely to be a night match, will give him the extra edge against a player who has been an indomitable force in the last year.

One glimmer of hope for Tomic is that Nadal exited Wimbledon at the earliest opportunity when he was stunned by Steve Darcis in the first round last June and the Spaniard traditionally takes a little while to warm up in his Grand Slam campaigns.

Other first-round highlights in the men's draw include Lleyton Hewitt against No. 24 seed Andreas Seppi as the veteran Aussie looks to build on his success against Roger Federer in the final at Brisbane last week.

American Ryan Harrison, who so often seems to suffer bad luck in Grand Slam draws, has been pitted against No. 25 seed Gael Monfils, who enters the first major of the year on the back of a runner-up outing against Nadal in Doha.

Last year's champion Novak Djokovic will start his bid for a fourth consecutive Australian Open title with a first round match against Slovak Republic's Lukas Lacko.

The Serbian is looking to become the first man to win five Australian Open titles in the Open Era and just the second man ever to win four in a row.

Four-time champion Roger Federer who is setting a new record by playing in his 57th consecutive Grand Slam will begin against Australian wild card James Duckworth while last year's runner-up Andy Murray takes on Japan's Go Soeda.

In the women's draw, No. 2 seed and reigning champion Victoria Azarenka starts against Sweden's Johanna Larsson while No. 3 seed Maria Sharapova makes her comeback to the Grand Slam scene after missing the US Open with a match-up against Julia Glushko.

Australian No. 1 Sam Stosur begins her campaign by playing Klara Zakopalova, while last year's runner-up Li Na will take on a qualifier in her first match at Melbourne Park.

The ITF produces men's match notes at the Australian Open and these will be available here.