Federer given tricky draw in quest for 16th slam

Roger Federer faces a challenging path to glory if he is to extend his record grand slam haul to 16 at the Australian Open next week, kicking off with a first round test against 36th-ranked Russian Igor Andreev. In their last meeting, Andreev took Federer to five sets at the 2008 U.S. Open and should the Swiss continue his march to the fourth round, local hope Lleyton Hewitt or 11th-seeded Frenchman Gilles Simon could block his path to the quarter-finals.

Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, who the world number one defeated for the 2006 title, also looms as a possible fourth-round opponent, ahead of a potential quarter-final against in-form Russian world number six Nikolay Davydenko.

Second seed Rafa Nadal has a much smoother route to the last eight as he sets out to defend the title he claimed in a five-set thriller against Federer a year ago.

The Mallorcan world number two was paired with low-ranked Australian Peter Luczak when the draw was made on Friday but may face a third-round hurdle against big-serving American John Isner, who knocked Andy Roddick out of the U.S. Open last year.

In the women’s draw, four-times champion and top seed Serena Williams opens against Poland’s 71st-ranked Urszula Radwanska to start what appears to be a relatively trouble-free run to the quarter-finals.

However, Russian fifth seed Elena Dementieva will need to be on her best form early on if she hopes to match or improve on her semi-final run last year after being dealt a possible second-round encounter with former number one Justine Henin.


The Belgian reached the Brisbane International final earlier this month in her first tournament back from retirement and should have too many weapons for compatriot and first-round opponent Kirsten Flipkens.

Should she continue through the tournament, Henin could set up a mouthwatering quarter-final against either French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova or fellow Beligian Kim Clijsters, who won the U.S. Open on her own comeback last year.

Clijsters, who needed three sets to edge Henin in Brisbane, has drawn a qualifier in the first round.

“I didn’t think that someone could come back that fast but Kim proved otherwise,” seven-time grand slam champion John McEnroe told reporters, paying tribute to the former world number one, who gave birth to daughter during her two-year break.

“Justine’s one of the great players that played. Certainly to me the three favourites are those two (Belgians) and Serena (Williams).”

Third seed and 2008 champion Novak Djokovic will open against 73rd-ranked Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver, while U.S. Open champion and fourth seed Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina faces 79th-ranked American Michael Russell.

Fifth seed Andy Murray, who carries Britain’s hopes of ending a 74-year wait for a men’s grand slam champion, will play a qualifier in the first round but faces a potential quarter-final showdown with Nadal.

Date: 15.01.2010, Source: Reuters


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