Djokovic and Halep top seeds at Australian Open

The draw for the first Grand Slam of the year took place on Thursday, as the likes of Federer, Djokovic and Rafael Nadal learned what their potential paths to the trophy would look like. But being so close, I'll give it a go.

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.

Andy Murray has offered a supportive fan free tickets to his opening match of the Australian Open as an apology for being thrashed by Novak Djokovic on Thursday.

The 31-year-old three-times major champion returned to action last June but the former world number one cut short a deflating season in September.

A hard first-round draw for Murray sees the world No 230 face 22nd seed Bautista Agut, though the five-time Australian Open finalist will be buoyed by his 100 per cent record against the Spaniard. If it would happen defending this title, I would gladly accept it.

Alex de Minaur, the only Australian men's seed in the draw at number 27, opens against Pedro Sousa, while other prominent first-round matchups for the locals include John Millman against Federico Delbonis, and Nick Kyrgios in a mouth-watering encounter against big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic, the 16th seed.

Men's top seed Djokovic, who was defending his title when he lost to Istomin, will first meet a qualifier in his bid for a record seventh Melbourne title and third Grand Slam crown in succession following wins at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

"To finally get that (title) here was so special, it's the happy slam". We'll see if he is indeed in the draw later tonight.

Serena Williams, who is seeded 16th, faces fellow mother Tatjana Maria of Germany in her first competitive match since her tempestuous US Open final loss to Naomi Osaka.

"I can't believe it's been a year already", Dane Wozniacki said at the draw ceremony.

Kerber will open against Slovenia's Polona Hercog, while No.3 seed Wozniacki will face Alison van Uytvanck first up to begin her title defense.

"The first time I came back here and hit on the courts, I thought, 'OK, I'm home, "' the third-seeded Wozniacki said of her return to Melbourne Park. "I'm just enjoying every minute of it".

  • Stacy Allen