Djokovic handed Verdasco opener, Federer to face qualifier

By Dejan Kalinic 13 January 2017 172
Djokovic handed Verdasco opener, Federer to face qualifier

Novak Djokovic was handed a tricky draw in the Australian Open first round as Roger Federer avoided a potential third-round meeting with Rafael Nadal.

World number two and defending champion Djokovic faces Fernando Verdasco, who last year stunned Nadal in the opening round.

Verdasco and Djokovic met in the Qatar Open semi-finals, with the Serbian star saving five match points before beating the Spaniard.

Federer was far more fortunate, the Swiss maestro and 17th seed to face a qualifier.

The 17-time grand slam champion would meet Czech Tomas Berdych in the third round if results went as expected.

World number one Murray was given a favourable opener, facing Ukrainian Illya Marchenko at Melbourne Park.

However, the Brit has Federer, Berdych and Kei Nishikori in his quarter.

Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis withdrew from the tournament due to injury prior to Friday's draw.


Notable first-round matches:

Andy Murray [1] v Illya Marchenko

Novak Djokovic [2] v Fernando Verdasco

Milos Raonic [3] v Dustin Brown

Stan Wawrinka [4] v Martin Klizan

Rafael Nadal [9] v Florian Mayer

Roger Federer [17] v Qualifier

Kei Nishikori [5] v Andrey Kuznetsov

Nick Kyrgios [14] v Gastao Elias

Marin Cilic [7] v Jerzy Janowicz

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Dejan Kalinic