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Nadal Faces Early Aussie Test In Melbourne

Melbourne, Australia

Nadal 2014 Australian Open draw© Getty ImagesWorld No. 1 Rafael Nadal returns to Melbourne Park seeking his second Australian Open title.

Top seed and 2009 Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal faces an early Aussie test in his return to Melbourne Park. 

The World No. 1 opens his campaign with an encounter with home favourite Bernard Tomic in the first round, and could square off with 17 year old Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second. In-form Brisbane champion Lleyton Hewitt could be waiting in the Round of 16 as well, with a potential battle with fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro in the quarter-finals. Nadal missed last year's tournament with a stomach virus.

Four-time champion Roger Federer and three-time finalist Andy Murray will lead the charge in the other part of Nadal’s half, with 2008 runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga seeded No. 10 and also in that quarter. Federer and Murray are on a collision course for a blockbuster quarter-final matchup in what would be a rematch of last year’s pulsating five-set semi-final. Federer opens against Australian wild card James Duckworth, while Murray encounters Japan’s Go Soeda.

Three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic helped usher in the tournament at the official unveiling of the singles draw. The World No. 2 Serb will kick off his quest to four-peat Down Under with a first-round meeting against Lukas Lacko and finds himself in the same half as third seed David Ferrer.

Djokovic, who is seeded second, could be the first man to win four consecutive Australian Open titles and the first to win a total of five in the Open Era. He is currently tied with Andre Agassi and Roger Federer with four titles Down Under. Djokovic could face World No. 8 Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarter-finals in a rematch of their epic fourth round encounter last year, won by the Belgrade native 12-10 in the fifth set. A semi-final rematch with Ferrer also looms large on the horizon.

The Spaniard, who has reached the semis at the Australian Open twice (2011, 2013), has an intriguing quarter of the draw with Wimbledon semi-finalist Jerzy Janowicz a potential Round of 16 matchup and World No. 7 Tomas Berdych or the ageless Tommy Haas in the quarter-finals. Ferrer opens with ATP Challenger Tour breakout star Alejandro Gonzalez.

Click to see the entire men's singles draw

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