The draws for the 2013 Australian Open have been announced, and there is a lot for tennis fans to look forward to over the next couple of weeks.
In Grand Slams, a player's spot on the bracket is almost as important as how good he or she is. An underrated pro might have the talent to reach the quarterfinals or semifinals, but it will not matter if he or she runs into a top seed too early and gets knocked out.
Even the top contenders want a good draw to avoid each other until late in the tournament.
With the brackets now determined, here is what the road to the championship looks like for each star player.
Note: Full bracket is available at AustralianOpen.com.
Novak Djokovic is the favorite in this tournament after winning it in each of the last two years. He is very good on the hard surface and it will be difficult for anyone to top him in any round.
To make things easier, the Serbian has a bit of a fortunate draw this time around.
Things will be difficult early, as he will likely have to face Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals.
On the other hand, he gets a little bit of a break if he reaches the semifinals, as he is set up to face David Ferrer.
While the Spaniard has been very good lately, there is a big difference between him and Andy Murray. The No. 4 seed has been much better on clay and does not have too much experience going deep into major tournaments.
Murray is especially dangerous after winning the U.S. Open last year, so Djokovic should be happy to avoid him until late.
If Ferrer loses, Janko Tipsarevic will be the best available on that side of the bracket. Therefore, it is likely that Berdych will have the best chance to stop Novak's run to the finals.
Although Roger Federer is much better on the grass at Wimbledon, the field has learned never to count out the 17-time Grand Slam champion.
Unfortunately for the veteran, the draw did not make things easy on him.
Federer will have to face a tough young player in Bernard Tomic in the third round, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga could make things difficult in the quarterfinals.
However, the big news of the draw is that he is set to face Andy Murray in the semifinals, a tough break considering the difference in experience between him and No. 4 seed David Ferrer.
If Murray loses, it will likely be Juan Martin del Potro that makes it through to the semis. He is one of the few players on tour that has actually won a Grand Slam and can be a tough matchup for everyone he faces.
While the Swiss star proved last year that he is still capable of winning Grand Slams, this road might be too tough to make it through.
Women's Bracket (via AustralianOpen.com)
While Serena Williams comes into the tournament as the No. 3 seed on the women's side, she is easily the favorite to win it all. Winning the last two Grand Slam tournaments and the Olympics has a way of raising expectations.
The American has recovered from a foot injury that kept her out of competition for almost a year and now looks like the dominant force of old.
In the Australian Open, however, Williams will have a bit of a tough road. Petra Kvitova looms in the quarterfinals after the 22-year-old reached the quarterfinals last season. It will be important not to lose focus in order to survive the early round.
The worst part is that she could have to face Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals. The No. 1-ranked player in the world is the returning champ in this event and will be one of the few players that can match up with Williams.
Although Williams is still the favorite, she will need to bring her A-game in every match to come out as a winner.
It took longer than many anticipated, but Maria Sharapova earned the career Grand Slam last year with a win at the French Open.
She also reached the finals of this tournament a year ago, so she remains a threat to win this time around.
The No. 2 seed has some difficult competition, but she fortunately will avoid both Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka until the finals.
When Sharapova was in the finals of the London Olympics, Williams was able to easily win, 6-0, 6-1. She should obviously be excited to avoid this possible fate until the last possible moment.
Instead, she is projected to face Agnieszka Radwanska in the semifinals. The Polish star has never won a Grand Slam and has only reached one Grand Slam final in her career.
Sharapova could face Venus Williams early in the bracket, but she should be able to handle the veteran player.
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