Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal learn opponents for Australian Open first round

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Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal learn opponents for Australian Open first round

Roger Federer found himself in a slightly awkward position before the Australian Open draw.

The 2008 champion Maria Sharapova is unseeded and takes on 47th-ranked German Tatjana Maria in the first round in the same section of the draw.

Djokovic is in the same quarter as the Zverev brothers - fourth-seeded Alexander could meet older brother and No. 32-seeded Mischa in the third round - 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka, and No. 5 Dominic Thiem.

Bouchard, who has fallen on tough times in recent years and comes into Melbourne ranked 81st, faces France's Oceane Dodin in the first round. "I wanted to be back on court, unfortunately the elbow wouldn't let me last week".

Seeded down in 14th after not playing competitively since Wimbledon, six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic is up against Donald Young.

What was more concerning, albeit in an exhibition, was his performance against retired 36-year-old Lleyton Hewitt in the semi-finals of the event - first to 10 points - having survived match points against the Australian.

So maybe Nadal versus Federer in the final isn't so much of a long shot after all?

The draw for the January 15-28 tournament, the first grand slam of the year, takes place later on Thursday.

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World number ones Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep have been named top seeds for the first major of the season, Australian Open, which will commence from January 15 at the Melbourne Park.

Britain's Andy Murray and Japan's Kei Nishikori have already withdrawn from the championships and women's world number three Garbine Muguruza has twice pulled out of tournaments over the last two weeks due to leg cramps and a thigh problem.

Third-seeded Muguruza is in a hard quarter containing former Australian Open champions Maria Sharapova and Angelique Kerber, and U.S. Open finalist Madison Keys.

Federer though is heading into the season's first Grand Slam with a lot of confidence after leading Switzerland to season-opening Hopman Cup earlier this year.

The five-time major victor finished 2017 ranked No. 60, meaning she missed out on a seeding for the Australian Open and could face 2016 champion Kerber in the third round. That means they can only play each other if they set up a rematch of last year's final.

"Ranking points, player withdrawals and how we deal with that is something we've got to and are looking at", he told Fairfax Media in Auckland.

"I increased my serve by several kilometers per hour and I think I did better overall with my second than first, and I can say I won some points nearly for free as a result", Nadal said in a recent interview with Spanish daily AS.

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