MEL BOURNE: Five-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic could face record Grand Slam winner Roger Federer in the semifinals of the season’s opening Grand Slam following Friday’s draw in Melbourne.
The 10-time Grand Slam champion from Serbia is projected to face Japan’s seventh seed Kei Nishikori in the quarters, while Switzerland’s 17-time major winner Federer is set to meet Czech Tomas Berdych in the second quarter-final of the top half of the men’s draw.
Top seed Djokovic, who wore down Andy Murray to win last year’s finals at Melbourne Park, won three Grand Slam titles among 11 tournament victories in a stellar 2015 season, and a win-loss record of 82-6.
He will play South Korean Hyeon Chung in the opening round.
Federer, who lost to Djokovic in the Wimbledon and US Open finals last year, will play Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili to get his campaign underway.
Explosive young Australian Nick Kyrgios, seeded 29, could face Berdych in the third round.
British second seed Murray, who has lost in four Australian Open finals, is drawn to meet Spanish terrier David Ferrer in the quarterfinals in the bottom half of the men’s draw.
The Scot will take on Germany’s Alexander Zverev in the opening round, while eighth seed Ferrer could face Lleyton Hewitt in the second round in the Australian great’s 20th consecutive and farewell home Grand Slam before his retirement.
Murray could have a showdown with top-ranked Australian youngster Bernard Tomic in the fourth round.
Rafael Nadal faces a potential rematch of his losing 2014 final against Swiss fourth seed Stan Wawrinka in the other quarterfinals in the bottom half of the draw.
Wawrinka is projected to face big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic in the fourth round, while Nadal, who won the Australian title only once in 2009, could take on South African Kevin Anderson in the last 16.
Wawrinka, who upset Djokovic in last year’s French Open finals for his second major win, opens against Russia’s Dmitry Tursunov, while Nadal meets Spanish compatriot Fernando Verdasco.
Quarterfinals projections in draw order
Novak Djokovic v Kei Nishikori
Roger Federer v Tomas Berdych
Rafael Nadal v Stan Wawrinka
David Ferrer v Andy Murray