Australia’s three top-ranked men’s tennis players face big challenges in the first round of the Australian Open on Tuesday.
Australia’s three highest-ranked men’s tennis players Lleyton Hewitt, Bernard Tomic and Marinko Matosevic will all face higher-ranked opponents when they start their Australian Open campaigns on Tuesday.
Tomic faces the highest-ranked of them all, world No.1 Rafael Nadal, in the opening night match in Rod Laver Arena.
Earlier, in-form Hewitt will be fancied to beat Italian 24th seed Andreas Seppi.
Hewitt, who lost in straight sets to Serbian Janko Tipsarevic in last year’s opening round, has had an excellent lead-in this time.
He won the Brisbane International, downing Roger Federer in the final, then beat world No.4 Andy Murray in an exhibition match last week.
Matosevic will need to pull off a big upset, as he faces Japanese 16th seed Kei Nishikori, who reached the quarter-finals two years ago and the fourth round last year.
Three other Australian men, James Duckworth, Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis, will also play first round matches.
Duckworth takes on four-time champion Federer, but Kyrgios and Kokkinakis, who played off in last year’s boys’ final, won by Kyrgios, have less formidable tasks.
Kyrgios will play German Benjamin Becker and Kokkinakis will meet Dutchman Igor Sijsling, both of whom are unseeded.
Two Australian women will also be in action, with Storm Sanders to play Italy’s Camila Giorgi and Olivia Rogowska to take on Colombian Mariana Duque-Marino.
Along with Federer and Nadal, other men’s stars Sydney International winner Juan Martin Del Potro and former Open finalists Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will begin their tournaments.
In the women’s draw, Victoria Azarenka begins her title defence against Sweden’s Johanna Larsson and third seed Maria Sharapova faces a testing opening match against American Bethanie Mattek-Sands.