Novak Djokovic faces a huge challenge if he’s to win a seventh Australian Open title on his return from injury, after receiving a tough draw on Thursday night.
The Serbian will likely come up against athletic Frenchman Gael Monfils in the second round and may have to overcome fourth seed Alexander Zverev and 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka just to book a semi-final against Roger Federer.
Djokovic hasn’t played a competitive tournament since retiring in the quarter finals at Wimbledon last year with a right elbow injury.
Women’s top seed Simona Halep will take on 17-year-old Australian wildcard Destinee Aiava in the first round, but will likely have to beat Eugenie Bouchard and Petra Kvitova just to make the round of 16.
The draw made for better reading for big names Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Caroline Wozniacki.
Nadal’s first round opponent is Dominican Victor Estrella Burgos, Federer will start his title defence against Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene while women’s second seed Wozniacki drew Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu.
Maria Sharapova’s return to Melbourne Park after serving a 15-month drug suspension will get underway against Tatiana Maria, with a third-round match up with 2016 champion Angelique Kerber looming likely.
Good draw for Kyrgios, daunting for De Minaur
Australian top seed Nick Kyrgios received a good draw, he avoided the big names and drew Brazilian Rogerio Dutra Silva in the first round.
If the 17th seed can avoid an early slip up he’ll likely come up against 2008 Finalist Jo Wilfried Tsonga in the third round, a win there and third seed Grigor Dimitrov, whom the Australian beat last week in the Brisbane International, will likely await.
Eighteenth seed Ash Barty will play Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka first up, but is in a tricky part of the draw. Daria Gavrilova’s bid to better her fourth-round appearances in 2016 and 2017 will start against a qualifier.
Eighteen-year-old Alex De Minaur has put together an impressive summer with a semi-final appearance at the Sydney International, but will face a big challenge in 19th seed Tomas Berdych.
He’s one of four Australians to draw a seed — Matthew Ebden will come up against big-serving American John Isner (16), Jason Kubler drew Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta (10) and Ajla Tomljanovic will take on Czech Lucie Safarova (29).
Sam Stosur will play Rio Olympics Gold Medalist Monica Puig, John Millman drew Croatian Borna Coric while Jordan Thompson’s first round opponent will be Argentina’s Nicolas Kicker.