Australian Open Draw Analysis: Who is in the Dreaded "Quarter of Death?"

Candice HareContributor IIIJanuary 13, 2011

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 14:  Robin Soderling of Switzerland hits a backhand shot during a practice session ahead of the 2011 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 14, 2011 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Lucas Dawson/Getty Images)
Lucas Dawson/Getty Images

The draw for the Australian Open, which is set to take place next week, is out, and there are a plethora of interesting matches in the early rounds.

The first round, for example, is filled with many potentially risky matches for several seeds on both the men's and women's draws.

Roger Federer will play the Slovak Lukas Lacko, whom he has never faced. Though Lacko lost in the second round in Melbourne last season, he has since upset the likes of Ivan Ljubicic, Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis. Lacko also forced Rafael Nadal to go the distance in their round of 16 match in Doha.

Rafael Nadal heads the first quarter along with John Isner, Feliciano Lopez, Mikhail Youzhny, David Nalbandian and David Ferrer.

The second quarter of the men's draw is packed. The fourth-seeded Robin Soderling is joined by Ernests Gulbis, 2008 Aussie Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Jurgen Melzer and fifth-seeded Andy Murray. 

The third quarter includes third-seeded Novak Djokovic, as well as, sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych, Fernando Verdasco and Qatar Open finalist Nikolay Davydenko.

The bottom quarter, which of course is headlined by Roger Federer, includes Andy Roddick and Chennai winner Stanislas Wawrinka.

On the women's side, top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki will face Gisela Dulko. Wozniacki leads their head-to-head matchups at 2-1, but Dulko defeated Ana Ivanovic and Victoria Azarenka at majors last season, so she is definitely a dangerous first-round opponent. Additionally, Kim Clijsters will face former world No. 1 Dinara Safina.

The top quarter of the women's draw, headlined by Wozniacki, includes Dominika Cibulkova, who upset Wozniacki in Sydney, as well as Yanina Wickmayer and Francesca Schiavone.

The second quarter of the draw includes fourth-seeded Venus Williams, eighth-seeded Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova and Andrea Petkovic.

Kim Clijsters is the top seed in the third quarter of the draw. Joining her in that quarter are Jelena Jankovic, Dinara Safina, Ana Ivanovic and Nadia Petrova.

The final quarter of the women's draw is lead by secondseeded Vera Zvonareva. Other notable names in her quarter include fifth-seeded Samantha Stosur and 10th-seeded Shahar Peer.

Some of the best first round matches include Australian players. Jarmila Groth, who defeated fellow Aussie Samantha Stosur in Brisbane, will face Yanina Wickmayer. Additionally, Australian star Lleyton Hewitt will face David Nalbandian in a must-see first round match.