The draw for the Australian Open gave Russia’s Maria Sharapova a green light through to thefinal and potential second round trouble for Nikolay Davydenko, who could face four-time Melbourne champion Roger Federer.
Second seed Sharapova will start with an all-Russian match against lowly Olga Puchkova and could face seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams in the third round, and fifth seed Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals.
Serena Williams, who could become the oldest top-ranked woman to succeed in Melbourne, was drawn in the other half along with reigning champion Victoria Azarenka meaning Sharapova won’t meet either of them until the final.
In the men’s draw, Roger Federer starts his 15th Australian Open against France’s Benoit Paire, while former World No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko must overcome a qualifier to face the Swiss legend.
Federer is second in the world, while poor form has recently seen Davydenko go down to 40th. The Russian, however, proved his class last week by reaching the final of the Qatar Open and thrashing fifth-ranked David Ferrer on the way.
World No. 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic faces 58th-ranked Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu in the first round and could face fifth seed Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals.
Andy Murray, the U.S. Open champion and third seed, starts against Dutch player Robin Haase and could play Federer in the semi-finals, while clay king Rafael Nadal is still recovering after injury.