MELBOURNE: World number one Serena Williams faces a potential semifinals with China’s Li Na following Friday’s women’s draw for the Australian Open.
Williams, who could equal Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert’s total of 18 Grand Slam singles titles with victory at Melbourne Park, will play Australian Ashleigh Barty first up.
The American, a five-time Australian Open champion, is seeded to face Italy’s seventh seed Sara Errani in the quarterfinals before a potential semifinals clash with fourth-seeded Li.
Li, who lost to Victoria Azarenka in last year’s finals, is drawn to face Czech left-hander Petra Kvitova in the last eight.
Two-time defending champion and world number two Azarenka will play Sweden’s Johanna Larsson in the opening round and has a potential quarterfinals with Polish fifth seed Agnieszka Radwanska.
Russian third seed Maria Sharapova, a winner in Melbourne in 2008, faces a tough opening round against American Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
Mattek-Sands upset top seed Radwanska at this week’s Sydney International, but later withdrew from the tournament with back trouble.
Sharapova was seeded to face Serbian eight seed Jelena Jankovic in the quarterfinals.