Tennis – ATP Cup – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 5, 2021 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic reacts during his group stage doubles match with Nikola Cacic against Germany’s Alexander Zverev and Jan-Lennard Struff REUTERS/Kelly Defina MELBOURNE— Novak Djokovic will begin his Australian Open title defense against Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, while reigning women’s champion Sofia Kenin meets wild card Maddison Inglis, following the draw for the year’s first Grand Slam on Friday. 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. Rafa Nadal, seeking a first title at the major 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. FILE PHOTO: Tennis – WTA Premier 5 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – September 17, 2020 Sofia Kenin of the U.S. in action during her second round match against Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka Pool via REUTERS/Angelo Carconi 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. American Serena Williams, bidding to win a record-equaling 24th major, will meet Laura Siegemund in the opening round. Naomi Osaka, the 2019 champion, has a series of potentially tough matches starting with a clash against former quarter-finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. The Japanese player could face Caroline Garcia and Ons Jabeur in her next two rounds before a likely match-up with either Garbine Muguruza or Angelique Kerber in the fourth round. 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. Read Next Don't miss out on the latest news and information. Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000. For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
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