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Federer, Murray In Same Australian Open Half; Djokovic Opens With Mathieu

Melbourne, Australia

Djokovic© AFP/Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic has drawn Paul-Henri Mathieu at the Australian Open.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic will begin his quest to become the first man to win three consecutive Australian Open titles in the Open Era against Paul-Henri Mathieu, while World No. 2 Roger Federer and third-ranked Andy Murray have been drawn in the bottom half.

Djokovic, the top seed, will make his season debut after finishing as the year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings for the second year in a row. Last year at Melbourne Park, Djokovic won back-to-back five-set thrillers, edging Murray in the semi-finals and outlasting Rafael Nadal in the longest major final on record to lift his fifth Grand Slam trophy.

The Serbian holds a 4-1 lead against Mathieu in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. The top quarter includes the two leaders of the 2012 Davis Cup champion Czech Republic, fifth seed Tomas Berdych and 31st seed Radek Stepanek, 11th seed Juan Monaco, 15th seed Stanislas Wawrinka and 22nd seed Fernando Verdasco, a semi-finalist in 2009.

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Fourth seed David Ferrer headlines the second quarter. Ferrer, the 2012 ATP World Tour titles and match wins leader, faces Olivier Rochus in his opener. At the bottom is a blockbuster first-round match-up between eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic and home favourite Lleyton Hewitt, who will contest his 17th straight Australian Open. Ferrer’s quarter also includes 10th-seeded Nicolas Almagro, 2012 quarter-finalist Kei Nishikori (16th seed), 24th seed Jerzy Janowicz, 2006 finalist Marcos Baghdatis (28th seed) and unseeded Grigor Dimitrov.

In the third quarter, third seed Murray starts his bid for back-to-back Grand Slam titles against Robin Haase. Murray finished runner-up in 2010 (l. to Federer) and 2011 (l. to Djokovic) and enters on the back of a successful title defence at the Brisbane International (d. Dimitrov).

In the quarter-finals, Murray could clash with sixth seed Juan Martin del Potro, who plays a qualifier yet to be determined. In perhaps the most intriguing first-round meeting, 18th seed Alexandr Dolgopolov takes on Gael Monfils. Twelfth seed and 2010 semi-finalist Marin Cilic and 14th seed Gilles Simon also feature.

Placed in the final slot of the draw, second-seeded Federer aims to capture his 18th major title and Open Era record fifth Australian Open crown, but has a tough road to the final. The Swiss meets Benoit Paire in the first round, a tall order for the Frenchman. Federer has advanced to 34 consecutive major quarter-finals and has never lost before the third round in Melbourne.

At the top of Federer’s quarter, seventh seed and 2008 finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga squares off against countryman Michael Llodra, his silver medal winning doubles partner at the London 2012 Olympics. Ninth seed Richard Gasquet, 13th seed Milos Raonic, 17th seed Philipp Kohlschreiber, and a pair of unseeded floaters, Russian Nikolay Davydenko and Australian Bernard Tomic, are among the players looking to prevent Federer from reaching his 10th semi-final in a row at this event.

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