Melbourne: World number ones Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep were named top seeds on Thursday for next week’s Australian Open, with 23-time major winner Serena Williams lurking at 16 on the women’s side. Djokovic heads long-time rival Rafael Nadal and defending champion Roger Federer, with young-gun Alexander Zverev seeded four as he targets a maiden Grand Slam title.
The Serbian world number one is aiming to make history by claiming a record seventh Australian Open crown when the tournament starts at Melbourne Park on Monday, as is Swiss legend Federer.
The pair face a stern challenge from Zverev, the torch-bearer for the next generation who has so far failed to get beyond the quarter-finals at any major. With world number five Juan Martin del Potro missing through injury, South Africa’s Kevin Anderson is elevated to fifth seed with last year’s beaten finalist Marin Cilic at six.
Halep takes the top seeding among the women courtesy of her world number one ranking, but she enters the tournament with only one match in four months under her belt after an injury lay off. The Romanian, the beaten finalist last year, is returning from a herniated disc and was bundled out of the Sydney International on Wednesday at the first hurdle.
Denmark’s defending champion Caroline Wozniacki, who is battling health problems and poor form, is seeded three, one behind Germany’s Angelique Kerber.
US Open champion Naomi Osaka is at four while Sloane Stephens, who also slumped out of Sydney early, is at five.
Overshadowing them all is the mighty Williams, who last played the tournament in 2017 when she won while eight weeks pregnant. The 37-year-old enters the tournament seeded 16, but has proved in the past that such numbers mean little to her. She is the hot favourite to claim a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam.
1. Novak Djokovic (SRB), 2. Rafael Nadal (ESP). 3. Roger Federer (SUI), 4. Alexander Zverev (GER). 5. Kevin Anderson (RSA), 6. Marin Cilic (CRO), 7. Dominic Thiem (AUT), 8. Kei Nishikori (JPN), 9. John Isner (USA). 10. Karen Khachanov (RUS), 11. Borna Coric (CRO), 12. Fabio Fognini (ITA), 13. Kyle Edmund (GBR), 14. Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE), 15. Daniil Medvedev (RUS), 16. Milos Raonic (CAN), 17. Marco Cecchinato (ITA), 18. Diego Schwartzman (ARG), 19. Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO), 20. Grigor Dimitrov (BUL), 21. David Goffin (BEL), 22. Roberto Agut Bautista (ESP), 23. Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP), 24. Chung Hyeon (KOR), 25. Denis Shapovalov (CAN), 26. Fernando Verdasco (ESP), 27. Alex de Minaur (AUS), 28. Lucas Pouille (FRA), 29. Gilles Simon (FRA), 30. Gael Monfils (FRA), 31. Steve Johnson (USA), 32. Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER)
1. Simon Halep (ROU), 2. Angelique Kerber (GER), 3. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN), 4. Naomi Osaka (JPN), 5. Sloane Stephens (USA), 6. Elina Svitolina (UKR), 7. Karolina Pliskova (CZE), 8. Petra Kvitova (CZE), 9. Kiki Bertens (NED), 10. Daria Kasatkina (RUS), 11. Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 12. Elise Mertens (BEL), 13. Anastasija Sevastova (LAT), 14. Julia Goerges (GER), 15. Ashleigh Barty (AUS), 16. Serena Williams (USA), 17. Madison Keys (USA), 18. Garbine Muguruza (ESP), 19. Caroline Garcia (FRA), 20. Anett Kontaveit (EST), 21. Qiang Wang (CHN), 22. Jelena Ostapenko (LAT), 23. Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP), 24. Lesia Tsurenko (UKR), 25. Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU), 26. Dominika Cibulkova (SVK), 27. Camila Giorgi (ITA), 28. Hsieh Su-Wei (TPE), 29. Donna Vekic (CRO), 30. Maria Sharapova (RUS), 31. Petra Martic (CRO), 32. Barbora Strycova (CZE).