World number one and top seed Serena Williams faces a potential quarter-final with great rival Maria Sharapova at next week’s Australian Open following Friday’s draw.
Williams, who is chasing her seventh Australian crown and 22nd Grand Slam title after beating Sharapova in last year’s final, will have a testing start against Italian Camila Giorgi, the highest ranked non-seeded player in the women’s draw.
The American, who also won Wimbledon and the French Open in a glittering 2015 season, has been troubled by a knee injury but said at the draw that she was in good shape for the year’s opening major.
Romanian second seed Simona Halep, who faces a qualifier first up, is drawn to meet Serena’s elder sister Venus Williams in the quarters in the bottom half of the draw.
Poland’s fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska has a potential last-eight clash with Czech sixth seed and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.
Two-time former winner Victoria Azarenka could face Spanish third seed Garbine Muguruza in the fourth round, while German seventh seed Angelique Kerber is drawn to meet Muguruza or Azarenka in the third quarter-final. – Agence France-Presse