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Kerber to open Australian Open title defense against unfancied Tsurenko

World No. 1 players Angelique Kerber and Andy Murray have been named the top seeds at the Australian Open, which begins on Monday. Kerber will be looking to defend her first Grand Slam title.

Defending champions Angelique Kerber and Novak Djokovic were brought their Australian Open trophies to the ceremony for the draw for the 2017 tournament in Melbourne's Margaret Court Arena on Friday.

Kerber could have received a more difficult opponent in the first round, having been drawn against the 61st-ranked Lessia Tsurenko of Ukraine. 

Serena Williams, who the 29-year-old German defeated in last year's Australian Open final and later took her No. 1 ranking, has a much tougher opponent in world No. 7 Belinda Bencic of Switzerland. Williams, 35, is going for a record 23rd Grand Slam title.

Kerber, however, could face two potentially difficult opponents in the early rounds. One is a possible rematch against 26th ranked Russian teen Daria Kasatkina, who upset her in this week's Sydney International. Former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard of Canada, who reached the semifinals in Sydney, is another potential stumbling block.

On the men's side, Andy Murray, who is chasing his first Australian Open title after losing in the final five times, should have little trouble with Ukraine's Illya Marchenko (93) in the first round. Second seed Djokovic, now the second-seeded men's player, is up against Fernando Verdasco.

The top German, 24th-ranked Alexander Zverev, faces the men's No. 73, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain.

pfd/dv (AFP, AP, dpa)

 

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