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You are here: Tennis Australian Open Australian Open Draw Wrap: Nadal, Federer in the bottom half of Men's Draw, Clijsters - Li Na could meet in Round 4

Australian Open Draw Wrap: Nadal, Federer in the bottom half of Men's Draw, Clijsters - Li Na could meet in Round 4

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roger_federerFor the first time since the 2005 French Open, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, have been drawn in the same half of a Grand Slam as the Australian Open Championships threw up the prospect of a tantalizing semi-final meeting in the Draw Ceremony on Friday morning. World No.1 and reigning champion Novak Djokovic will on the other hand be delighted that he would need to turnover just one of the big two as he attempts to defend his title. The Serb has in the last few years found himself in the same side of the draw as Federer more often than not, but had a stellar 2011, ending the year with an outstanding 10-1 match record against Rafa and Roger.

Novak speaking at the opening ceremony today said he was confident of defending his title. He shared that his incredible run last year, dropping just a set in the entire tournament gave him the confidence for the later stages of Grand Slams. Novak Djokovic will kick off his campaign against the Italian Paolo Lorenzi in the first round and is seeded to meet Andy Murray in the semifinals. Djokovic conceded that the youngsters to watch out for are the big serving Canadian Milos Raonic and the Australian Bernard Tomic.

The two time runner-up Andy Murray will play his opening match against the American Ryan Harrison. The Scot currently being coached by former world no.1, Ivan Lendl has had an impressive start to the year winning the Brisbane International last week. Murray could find a tough challenge in Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals. Tsonga will play his opening match against Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan and has been in excellent form at the start of the season, winning the Qatar Open earlier this month. Murray too has been in good form, capturing the title in Brisbane, and their potential quarter-final clash has five sets of mouth watering tennis written all over it.

The women's draw on the other hand is wide open with no clear favorites. The women's circuit has seen seven different champions win the last eight grand slams. Defending Champion Kim Clijsters is seeded no.11 this year at the Australian Open Championships. The Belgian was present at the Draw Ceremony this morning and said that the Australian Open final against Li Na last year was probably the best match of her career. Clijsters is yet to know her opponent as she will play a qualifier and could potentially meet Li Na of China in the quarterfinals.

Li Na, who had seen her form slide in the later half of 2011, started the year with an impressive performance against world no. 2 and Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitová of Czech Republic in the semifinals of the Sydney International on Thursday. She will play Ksenia Pervak of Kazakhstan in the first round. Li Na and Clijsters are in the top half of the draw and the winner of their match is seeded to face the top seed Caroline Wozniacki in the Quarter-finals. Wozniacki opens her campaign against Australian Anasatsia Rodionova, the 2010 Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist.

The bottom half of the women's draw will be fiercely competed with Petra Kvitová, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Sam Stosur. Petra Kvitová is widely expected to take over the No.1 ranking from Caroline Wozniacki by the end of the tournament, will play the Russian Vera Dushevina in the first round. Sam Stosur's success at the US Open championships last year has put her in the limelight and will face huge pressure starting the Open as the local favorite. She will play her opening match against Sorana Cirstea of Romania.

Maria Sharapova, seeded 4th, has arguably the toughest opening round in prospect against the battle hard Argentine Gisela Dulko. Her quarter is exceptionally difficult looking with Serena Williams, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Vera Zvonareva and Sabine Lisicki all lurking in wait. Williams, seeded 12th opens her campaign against Austrian Tamira Paszek.

Photograph Copyright: Australian Open 2011