Djokovic included in Australian Open draw; Awaits decision from Australian government
Canadians Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov will both face tough tests in the Round of 16 at the Australian Open, should they advance through their first three matches.
Auger-Aliassime, who enters the first major of the year at a career-high ranking of ninth in the world, was seeded ninth in Thursday's draw. He will face the world's 90th ranked player, Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland, in his first-round match.
With a win in his opener, the Montreal native would advance to face the victor of No. 51 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Australian wild-card Alex Bolt in the second round. After that, 24th-seeded Daniel Evans could await in the third round.
The 21-year-old isn't expected to be an underdog until the Round of 16, when a matchup with No. 5 seed Andrey Rublev of Russia is projected to take place. Auger-Aliassime reached the fourth round at the Australian Open last year before losing to Aslan Karatsev.
In his most recent Grand Slam appearance, Auger-Aliassime reached the semifinals at the US Open, where he fell to eventual champion Daniil Medvedev.
Shapovalov, who enters the tournament ranked 14th, is seeded in that spot as well. He will take 52nd-ranked Laslo Djere of Serbia in his opening-round matchup and would face the winner of Holger Rune and Soonwoo Kwon in the second round with a win.
The 22-year-old could face hard-serving Reilly Opelka in the third round, should the 6-foot-11 American advance past the second round in Australia for the first time.
The fourth round would also pin Shapovalov as an underdog, with a prospective match against No. 3 seed Alexander Zverev of Germany.
Shapovalov reached the third round in Melbourne last year before falling to Auger-Aliassime and has never advanced to the Round of 16 at the tournament. He posted his best career Grand Slam result at Wimbledon last year, being bounced in the semifinals by world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
In the women's draw, Leylah Annie Fernandez will be looking to build on her run to the US Open final last year as she begins the tournament seeded 23rd.
The 19-year-old will be looking to snap a streak of three-straight first-round exits at the Australian Open as she faces wild-card Maddison Inglis in her opening match. Inglis, ranked 139th in the world, represents a significantly more favourable matchup for Fernandez than her first-round opponent last year - No. 18 seed Elise Mertens.
The Montreal native though faces a tough road to quarter-finals, with a potential third-round match against No. 16 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany looming and a possible matchup against No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus beyond that in round four.
The Australian Open will represent just the second tournament Fernandez has played in since reaching Round of 16 at the Indian Wells in early October. She was bounced in the second round of the Adelaide International earlier this month by Iga Świątek after defeating Ekaterina Alexandrova in the first round.
Fernandez is currently the only Canadian woman in the main draw at the major, but could be joined Rebecca Marino, who will face Russia's Kamilla Rakhimova in the final round of qualifying Thursday night.