Rafael Nadal, Simona Halep announced top seeds for Australian Open

Roger Federer

Federer, who is present at Thursday's draw, will open his title defence against Slovenian world No 51 Aljaz Bedene.

Federer, who was interviewed on court prior to the draw being revealed, should enjoy a routine first week as he begins his title defense.

He is followed by Marin Cilic, David Goffin, Jack Sock, Stan Wawrinka, Pablo Carreno Busta.

Players could forfeit their prize money if they retire from first-round singles matches at the Australian Open, under new rules aimed at limiting the early injury withdrawals which have long caused controversy at Grand Slams.

Nadal will be the top seed, ahead of Roger Federer and young guns Grigor Dimitrov and Alexander Zverev.

Giorgi, belying her ranking of 100th in the world, beat US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the first round and then ousted twice Wimbledon and former Sydney champion Petra Kvitova.

Romania's World No. 1 and tournament's top seed Simona Halep will face Australian wild card Destanee Aiava as her first round opponent at the Australian Open, while Thursday's draw could also see her go up against Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals.

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Federer took his Grand Slam tally to 19 after extended rest breaks and Nadal, who enters his 18th season on the ATP tour, has also benefitted from carefully picking tournaments to preserve his fitness.

Serena Williams, Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori and Victoria Azarenka are all big-name players who won't be participating in the Australian Open this year.

Now ranked No47, she could face the 14th seed Anastasija Sevastova in the second round, Angelique Kerber - the 2016 champion - in the third round and, potentially, Garbine Muguruza, the Wimbledon champion, in the fourth round.

Former world No 1 Moya will lead Nadal's team, after spending last season with Rafa and Toni preparing for the latter's retirement, having helped Nadal roar back to life after a barren three-year spell without a Grand Slam trophy.

Germany's Zverev won their only match so far, comfortably defeating Djokovic in straight sets in the Rome Masters final previous year.

The five-time major victor finished 2017 ranked No. 60, meaning she missed out on a seeding for the Australian Open and could face 2016 champion Kerber in the third round.

"There's no easy way to get to the top", Sharapova told the crowd at Margaret Court Arena before the draw. Thiem, who admittedly played far from his best, barely got a read of it. "I don't normally like going to draws as they freak me out", Federer, 36, said. "I expect to continue to do so".

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