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Djokovic gets best of Open draw
By Darren Walton
16:57 AEST Fri Jan 11 2013

Novak Djokovic has firmed as favourite to clinch the first Australian Open men's hat-trick in 45 years after his two chief rivals were lumped in the bottom half of the draw on Friday.

Roger Federer and Andy Murray, the second and third seeds who split the Wimbledon and Olympic finals last season, are on a semi-final collision course, with Djokovic the chief beneficiary of Rafael Nadal's absence from the season-opening major in Melbourne.

With no Nadal and no chance of a sequel to their dramatic, recording-breaking six-hour final at Rod Laver Arena last year, the all-conquering Serb is seeded to meet Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer in the semis.

Without a danger in sight, Djokovic opens against French veteran Paul-Henri Mathieu and vowed to hit the ground running in his quest for a fourth Open crown.

"I have to come to the court serious and try to get the job done as quick as possible," Djokovic said.

"He was a top-20 player before. He knows what it's like to be on the big stage. He has a lot of quality - a lot of experience.

"There are expectations for someone who is in my position, but I am looking forward to it."

While Djokovic should cruise through to at least his 11th consecutive grand slam semi-final, Federer has been handed a particularly challenging draw.

After an expected routine first-round win over Frenchman Benoit Paire, the 17-times major winner might have to beat former Open semi-finalist Nikolay Davydenko, Bernard Tomic, 13th seed Milos Raonic and 2008 runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga just to book a likely semi-final date with Murray.

With the gorilla off his back after eclipsing Djokovic in five titanic sets to end Britain's 76-year wait for a men's grand slam singles champion at the US Open in September, Murray has drawn Dutchman Robin Haase first up.

The Scot's first real test is likely to come against Argentine sixth seed Juan Martin del Potro in the quarter-finals.

Fifth seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic starts against American Michael Russell.

In notable first-round match-ups, Australia's former world No.1 Lleyton Hewitt takes on Serbian eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic, while Tomic faces Argentine Leonardo Mayer.


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