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Australian Open draw sees Coco...
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Australian Open draw sees Coco Gauff face Venus again

Colm Boohig
Colm Boohig

10:27 16 Jan 2020

The first major of the year gets underway next Monday, January 20th in Melbourne.

Coco Gauff - the American teenager and rising star of the sport - is one half of the standout first-round draw at this year's Australian Open as she faces Venus Williams, just six months on from sensationally defeating the iconic veteran at the same stage of Wimbledon.

Meanwhile, reigning women's titleholder Naomi Osaka will start her defence against the Czech, Marie Bouzkova, with the possibility of facing either Gauff or Williams in the third round.

Home favourite and world number one Ash Barty gets her tournament underway against Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko, with the reigning French Open champion looking to better her quarter-final appearance in Melbourne last year.

On the men's side, the defending champion Novak Djokovic starts against the German, Jan-Lennard Struff, with Roger Federer beginning his campaign against the American, Steve Johnson. Djokovic and Federer share the same half of the draw.

Top seed and world number one Rafael Nadal has a first-round date with Bolivia's Hugo Dellien. The Spaniard could have a blockbuster fourth-round tie with the precocious Nick Kyrgios, with the 23rd seed starting against the Italian, Lorenzo Sonego.

Kyrgios, who made news earlier this month by stating that he would donate $200 per ace during the Australian summer season for all those affected by the bushfires, is his country's new number one following Alex De Minaur's withdrawal from the event.

Elsewhere, Andy Murray has lot his fitness battle to play in his first major singles event 12 months on from standing on-court in Melbourne watching his peers pay tribute to him on the cusp of his retirement. Despite Murray's absence this time around, the three-time grand slam winner's return from the brink has been nothing short of remarkable.

Serena Williams, who is looking to finally equal Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam titles, has been drawn against China's Shuai Zhang in the first round. The American had gone three years without winning a title at all until she beat compatriot Jessica Pegula at the Auckland Open earlier this month. Williams has lost four consecutive grand slam finals in straight sets since winning the 2017 Australian Open.

Long-time Williams rival and the 2008 Australian Open champion, Maria Sharapova has been granted a wildcard in Melbourne this year. Sharapova, ranked 147 in the world, will face the 19th seeded Croatian, Donna Vekic.

Greek sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas, winner of the prestigious season-ending ATP Finals in London and slayer of Federer at last year's Australian Open, will take on Salvatore Caruso of Italy in the opening round.

Crisis in Australia

The 2020 Australian Open takes place amid the bushfires which have devastated the country since the turn of the year.

As a result of the poor air quality emanating from the unforgiving conditions, a number of matches have been impacted. Just last week, the Slovenian player Dalila Jakupovic was forced to retire mid-match during her Australian Open qualifier after enduring a sustained on-court coughing fit.

Eugenie Bouchard, the 2014 Wimbledon finalist, had similar problems in her encounter and was forced to take a number of medical breaks before eventually beating You Xiaodi of China.

The tennis world has gathered to raise money for relief, with a number of stars taking part in Rally for Relief, including; Federer, Djokovic, Nadal, Kyrgios, Caroline Wozniacki, Petra Kvitova, Serena Williams and a number of others, raising nearly $5m through a bushfire appeal charity match in the process at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.

Highlights of the Australian Open will be shown throughout the tournament on BBC. The finals will take place the weekend of February 1st and 2nd.

Australian Open men's seeds:

1. Rafael Nadal

2. Novak Djokovic

3. Roger Federer

4. Daniil Medvedev

5. Dominic Thiem

6. Stefanos Tsitsipas

7. Alexander Zverev

8. Matteo Berrettini

9. Roberto Bautista

10. Gael Monfils

11. David Goffin

12. Fabio Fognini

13. Denis Shapovalov

14. Diego Schwartzman

15. Stan Wawrinka

16. Karen Khachanov

17. Grigor Dimitrov

18. Andrey Rublev

19. John Isner

20. Alex De Minaur

21. Felix Auger-Aliassime

22. Benoit Paire

23. Guido Pella

24. Nick Kyrgios

25. Dusan Lajovic

26. Nikoloz Basilashvili

27. Borna Coric

28. Pablo Carreno Busta

29. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

30. Dan Evans

31. Taylor Fritz

32. Hubert Hurkacz

Australian Open women's seeds:

1. Ashleigh Barty

2. Karolina Pliskova

3. Naomi Osaka

4. Simona Halep

5. Elina Svitolina

6. Belinda Bencic

7. Petra Kvitova

8. Serena Williams

9. Kiki Bertens

10. Madison Keys

11. Aryna Sabalenka

12. Johanna Konta

13. Petra Martic

14. Sofia Kenin

15. Marketa Vondrousova

16. Elise Mertens

17. Angelique Kerber

18. Alison Riske

19. Donna Vekic

20. Karolina Muchova

21. Amanda Anisimova

22. Maria Sakkari

23. Dayan Yastremska

24. Sloane Stephens

25. Ekaterina Alexandrova

26. Danielle Collins

27. Qiang Wang

28. Anette Kontaveit

29. Elena Rybakina

30. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

31. Anastasija Sevastova

32. Barbora Strycova

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Australian Open Coco Gauff Djokovic Federer Nadal Nick Kyrgios Serena Williams Tennis

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