Djokovic starts against Young

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Rarely has there been so much intrigue surrounding the fate of a No.14 seed at a Grand Slam draw ceremony – but that was the case in Melbourne on Thursday evening

Novak Djokovic, a six-time Australian Open champion, has an unfamiliar number alongside his name as he makes his return after a six-month absence with elbow trouble.

It was always likely that the former world No.1 would be handed a challenging draw at the first major of the year due to his low seeding, however he won’t be too disappointed as he analyses his potential route to an unprecedented seventh title.

Djokovic is in the same half of the draw as Roger Federer, but he can’t encounter the defending champion until the semi-final stage. He will make his competitive comeback against Donald Young and could encounter Gael Monfils in the second round.

A possible early clash with the flamboyant Frenchman, who nabbed the seventh trophy of his career at the Qatar Open last week, is unlikely to thrill the Serbian - but he has won all 14 previous meetings with Monfils.

No.4 seed, Alexander Zverev, is scheduled to meet Djokovic in the fourth round and Dominic Thiem and Stan Wawrinka are possible quarter-final foes.

Federer, bidding for major No.20, will launch his campaign against Aljaz Bedene. The returning Milos Raonic is a possible last sixteen rival for the 36-year-old and Juan Martin del Potro or David Goffin could be waiting at the last eight stage.

In the top half of the draw, Rafael Nadal will play his first competitive match of 2018 against Víctor Estrella Burgos. The world No.1 is in a fairly soft quarter of the draw but John Isner is a potential fourth round opponent.

The Spaniard is scheduled to meet Marin Cilic in the last eight and a blockbuster clash with Grigor Dimitrov is pencilled in for the semi-finals. The pair met at the same stage 12 months in an unforgettable duel.

Dimitrov’s latest attempt to capture Grand Slam silverware will commence against a qualifier. He could face Nick Kyrgios, who defeated him in the last four of Brisbane last week, in the fourth round and Jack Sock is a potential quarter-final rival.

Kyle Edmund will encounter No.11 seed, Kevin Anderson, in the first round and David Ferrer will challenge Andrey Rublev at the same stage.

Other notable opening round matches include Tomas Berdych versus Alex de Minaur and del Potro against Frances Tiafoe.

The 106th edition of the Australian Open begins on Monday. The full draw is available here.

Posted by: tennishead magazine

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