MELBOURNE, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Novak Djokovic
received a favorable draw Friday in his bid to win the Australian Open for the third straight year.
The season's first major championship will begin next Monday with Djokovic seeded No. 1 and with seven-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal out of action due to illness and injury.
That means second-seeded Roger Federer and third-seeded Andy Murray will be in the opposite half of the draw from Djokovic and he would not have to meet either of them until the championship match.
Djokovic is trying to become the first player in the Open Era to win the tournament three consecutive years. He defeated Nadal last year in the longest Grand Slam final ever.
Djokovic, winner of five major titles, will open the tournament against Paul-Henri Mathieu. A possible quarterfinal opponent would be No. 5 seed and former Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych.
Federer, who has won this tournament four times, will open against Benoit Paire. Murray, already a winner on the ATP circuit this year, will meet Robin Haase in the first round.
In the women's draw, No. 1 seed Victoria Azarenka will face Monica Niculescu to begin the event. Second-seeded Maria Sharapova's first-round opponent will be Olga Puchkova and No. 3 seed Serena Williams will take on Edina Gallovits-Hall.
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