For Rafa & Fedex, it can be final before the final | sports | Hindustan Times
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For Rafa & Fedex, it can be final before the final

sports Updated: Jan 14, 2012 01:00 IST
AFP
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Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are in the same half of a grand slam for the first time in seven years after the draw was made on Friday for next week's Australian Open in Melbourne.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic has world number four Andy Murray in the top half of the men's singles draw, while Nadal and Federer, second and third ranked respectively, were placed for the bottom half.

It is the first time since the 2005 French Open that 16-time grand slam champion Federer and 10-time major winner Nadal have been pitted in the same half of a grand slam draw.

The draw means that if they progress, the quartet will meet in the last four with Djokovic and Murray on collision course and Federer and Nadal eyeing a semifinal clash.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/14-01-pg23a.jpg

Djokovic, who won three of the four grand slams and five Masters titles in a remarkable 2011, begins his Australian Open title defence against Italy's Paolo Lorenzi.

No warm-up
"I didn't play in any lead-up tournaments (to the Open) because I played a lot of matches in 2011 and I felt that I didn't have to perform in the first week of the season," Djokovic said at the draw.

"I feel comfortable with preparing for an extra week ... I hope it works. I arrived last Wednesday, for the last five-six years I haven't arrived in Melbourne this early so I think I have enough time to prepare for the conditions."

Last year's Australian Open final triumph over Murray was the first of seven straight tournament wins for Djokovic in a 41-match winning streak that was finally ended by Federer in the semi-finals of the French Open. "I was playing the best tennis of my life, especially in the opening six months of last season and one of the strongest moments was in Australia last year," Djokovic said.

"I lost only one set in the tournament and I played incredible especially in the later rounds of the event, that's something that gave me a lot of confidence for the rest of the year."

Tough for Wozniacki
World number one Caroline Wozniacki could face French Open champion Li Na in the quarterfinals according to the women's draw.

The Danish top seed, whose world ranking is under threat from Petra Kvitova, also has defending champion Kim Clijsters, third seed Victoria Azarenka and the dangerous Agnieszka Radwanska in her top half of the women's singles draw. Wozniacki is hunting a maiden grand slam title in Melbourne and opens her campaign against Australian Anastasia Rodionova.

Clijsters beat Li in last year's Australian Open final before the Chinese star went on to take the French Open, in the process making history as the first Asian grand slam winner.

Li plays Ksenia Pervak of Kazakhstan in her opening match. Wimbledon champion Kvitova will face tough opponents as she targets Open glory.

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