Published: Fri, January 11, 2019
Sports | By Sarah Myers

Australian Open 2019 draw: Halep, Venus, Serena land in loaded top section

Australian Open 2019 draw: Halep, Venus, Serena land in loaded top section

The 31-year-old three-times major champion returned to action last June but the former world number one cut short a deflating season in September.

Free agent right-hander Shelby Miller signed a $2 million, one-year contract with the Texas Rangers on Wednesday and can make another $3 million in performance bonuses.

"If I had a chance to do it as well I'd be happy to try and go there as well".

Serb Djokovic could then play a rematch of his 2008 final triumph over Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second round, with a possible quarter-final against Kei Nishikori to follow.

Five-time Melbourne Park runner-up Andy Murray, on the comeback trail from injury, faces 22nd-seeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut in the first round. "If I made 100 at the Australian I'd take it, I'd gladly accept it - and I'll give it all I have".

Second seed and 2016 champion Angelique Kerber, bidding for a fourth Grand Slam title, will open against Slovenian Polona Hercog, with a possible quarter-final against 2017 U.S. Open victor Sloane Stephens in the second week.

Defending champion Roger Federer takes on Denis Istomin in round one and is in the same half of the draw as Rafael Nadal, who faces Australian James Duckworth.

Serena Williams will face Tatjana Maria in the first round, and could meet either Genie Bouchard or Peng Shaui in the second round.

Men's top seed Djokovic, who was defending his title when he lost to Istomin, will first meet a qualifier in his bid for a record seventh Melbourne title and third Grand Slam crown in succession following wins at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

"The first time I came back here and hit on the courts, I thought, 'OK, I'm home, "' the third-seeded Wozniacki said of her return to Melbourne Park. For me it's just taking it day by day, doing the right things, taking even better care of my body.

Second-seeded Angelique Kerber, who won the Australian and U.S. Opens in 2016 and added the Wimbledon title past year, is in the same half as Wozniacki and has 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens in her quarter. "I've had a great off-season and I feel very well prepared".

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