Novak opens Melbourne title defence against Mathieu

Defending champion Novak Djokovic will be the top-seeded player for the Australian Open (January 14-27).

He is followed by Roger Federer, Andy Murray and David Ferrer. Last year’s runner-up Rafael Nadal has withdrawn due to stomach virus.

Novak won title in Melbourne three times, in 2008, 2011 and 2012, and will try to become the first man in the 45-year professional era to land a hat-trick of AO crowns.

The 25-year-old Serbian star defeated Paolo Lorenzi, Santiago Giraldo, Nicolas Mahut, Lleyton Hewitt, David Ferrer and Andy Murray en-route to the epic 2012 final against Nadal that lasted 5 hours and 53 minutes (5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5).

The 2013 Australian Open draw has been revealed on Friday morning in Melbourne.

The first Grand Slam tournament of the season begins on Monday, January 14, at Melbourne Park. 128 players will be fighting during two weeks for the championship trophy and 2000 ATP points.

Novak will start his bid for a sixth Grand Slam title against world no.58 Paul-Henri Mathieu, on Monday about 14.00 local time (04.00 CET). He has a 4-1 H2H record against the Frenchman.

In the second round Djokovic will play the winner of the match between Ryan Harrison (USA) and Santiago Giraldo (COL).

The earliest seed he could meet is no.31 Czech Radek Stepanek, in round three.

Novak’s potential opponents in the later stages of the tournament:

4th round: Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI, 15), Sam Querrey (USA, 20)
Quarter-finals: Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic, 5), Juan Monaco (ARG, 11), Fernando Verdasco (ESP, 22)
Semi-finals: David Ferrer (ESP, 4), Janko Tipsarevic (SRB,8), Nicolas Almagro (ESP, 10)

Second seed Roger Federer (SUI) is in the bottom half of the draw, as well as Andy Murray (GBR, 3), Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG, 6), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA, 7), Richard Gasquet (FRA, 9)… and Nole can’t meet them before the finals.

Photo: Ben Solomon/Tennis Australia

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