MELBOURNE Jan 11 World number one Roger
Federer will begin the defence of his Australian Open title
against Argentine Diego Hartfield after the draw was made at
Melbourne Park on Friday.
The Swiss, bidding for his 13th grand-slam title, was
handed a kind draw in the early stages, though he could face a
quarter-final against seventh seed Fernando Gonzalez of Chile,
whom he beat in the final 12 months ago.
Federer had to pull out of the warm-up event at Kooyong
because of a virus but is expected to be fully fit to play.
Third seed Novak Djokovic is his projected semi-final
opponent, though Argentine David Nalbandian, who beat Federer
twice at the end of last year, is lurking in the same half.
Second seed Rafael Nadal, number six Andy Roddick, eighth
seed Richard Gasquet and number nine Andy Murray are all in the
Nadal and Roddick will both play qualifiers in the first
round, while Murray has a tough opening match against
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the world number 38 from France.
Women's top seed Justine Henin of Belgium takes on Aiko
Nakimura of Japan in the first round.
The Belgian, who won the French Open and U.S. Open in 2007,
has a seemingly clear path through to the quarter-finals, where
she is scheduled to play fifth seed Maria Sharapova.
However, the Russian is likely to face a tough second-round
match against former champion Lindsay Davenport.
Davenport, who is unseeded this year, has won three titles
in her four events since returning to the tour in September,
having had a year off, during which she had her first child.
Serena Williams will begin the defence of her title against
Jarmila Gajdosova, a Slovakia-born wildcard now playing for
The seventh seed, who won her eighth grand-slam title 12
months ago, is scheduled to play third seed Jelena Jankovic of
Serbia in the quarter-finals, while Henin would be her likely
American Venus Williams, seeded eighth, is in the opposite
half and could play Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli, whom she beat
to win the Wimbledon title last year, in the fourth round.
Williams would then be likely to play fourth seed Ana
Ivanovic of Serbia in the quarter-finals.
World number 12 Tommy Haas, a former semi-finalist at
Melbourne Park, pulled out on the eve of the draw because of
(Editing by John O'Brien)