Djokovic to play Chardy, Osaka and Serena face tough openers

Australian Open Draw

Novak Djokovic will begin his Australian Open title defence against Jeremy Chardy, while reigning women’s champion Sofia Kenin meets wildcard Maddison Inglis.

World number one Djokovic captured a record-extending eighth title at Melbourne Park last year by beating Dominic Thiem, who is seeded third and will face Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin in the first round.

There are challenging draws for Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams, who is bidding to win a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam and will meet Laura Siegemund in the opening round.

Osaka, the 2019 champion, has a series of potentially tough match-ups, beginning with an opening clash against former quarter-finalist in Melbourne, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

The Japanese star could take on Caroline Garcia and Ons Jabeur in her next two rounds before another tricky match-up with either Garbine Muguruza or Angelique Kerber in the fourth round.

Rafael Nadal, seeking a first title at Melbourne Park since 2009, will meet Serbia’s Laslo Djere in his opener.

The Spaniard is level with Roger Federer on 20 Grand Slam titles and looking to overtake the Swiss champion, who is not playing this year following knee surgery.

Top-ranked Ash Barty resumes her quest to become the first homegrown singles winner at the Australian Open since 1978 when the 24-year-old takes on Danka Kovinic.

Second seed Simona Halep of Romania, a beaten finalist at Melbourne Park three years ago, will play wild card Lizette Cabrera while fifth-seeded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina faces Marie Bouzkova.

ATP Finals champion Daniil Medvedev, who lost in the fourth round in the previous two years, meets Canada’s Vasek Pospisil, while young guns Jannik Sinner and Denis Shapovalov are set to face off in what promises to be a blockbuster opener.

Fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas has a tricky test against French veteran Gilles Simon while Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev have relatively easier first rounds against Marcos Giron and Yannick Hanfmann, respectively.

Iga Swiatek, who made her breakthrough last year by winning the French Open title, takes on Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands while Venus Williams plays Kirsten Flipkens.