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Australian Open 2018: Angelique Kerber handed all German opener

Angelique Kerber is the hot favourite to progress after being handed a straightforward tie against a compatriot at the Australian Open. The draw itself was controversial, after Maria Sharapova was chosen to host.

Angelique Kerber will face fellow German player Anna-Lena Friedsam in the first round of the Australian Open. The former world number one, and winner of the 2016 tournament, will fancy her chances of victory when the pair meet on Monday. World number 45 Friedsam reached the fourth round of the competition two years ago.

The highest-seeded German in the men's draw Alexander Zverev (4) takes on Italy's Thomas Fabbiano in his opening tie. The twenty-year old could meet his brother, Mischa, in the third round. The siblings have never squared-off before. 

Men's number one Rafael Nadal was handed a comfortable opener against thirty-seven year old Dominican Victor Estrella Burgos. It would be a huge upset if the world number 81 were to defeat Nadal, who lost in the final last year. Reigning champion Roger Federer (2) will take on former British player Aljaz Bedene, who defected to Slovenia for the start of the 2018 season. Novak Djokovic, who has slipped to 14th in the world rankings after missing the US Open through injury, plays American Donald Young.

Tennis - ATP World Tour Finals Alexander Zverev (Getty Images/J. Finney)

Alexander Zverev at the ATP World Tour Finals

Women's number one seed Simona Halep also recieved a kind draw, with Australian wild card Destanee Aiava unlikely to pose much of a threat to the Romanian. Venus Williams (2), who lost the 2017 final to her sister, was handed a relatively tough opener against Belinda Bencic. Serena Williams opted not to take part in the tournament, choosing instead to focus on her recovery after giving birth to her first child. She famously won last year's edition while two month's pregnant. 

The draw itself came under added scrutiny after it was announced that Maria Sharapova would draw the matches in Williams' place. The Russian recently served a fifteen month ban for failing a drugs test. The 2008 champion handed herself a winnable opening tie against Germany's Tatjana Maria.

Of Germany's remaining notable contenders, Philipp Kohlschrieber (27) takes on Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka, while women's seventh seed Julia Görges plays American Sofia Kenin on Monday. 

 

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