Australian Open 2020 draw: Djokovic on course for Federer clash as Venus faces Gauff again

By Sports Desk January 16, 2020

Defending champion Novak Djokovic could meet Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the Australian Open, while Venus Williams has again been pitted against Coco Gauff.

Gauff produced one of 2019's most remarkable results when she beat five-time Wimbledon champion Williams in the first round at the All England club, and the 15-year-old will again face her compatriot in the opening round of 2020's first major.

Serena Williams starts her latest quest for a 24th grand slam singles title against another teenager, Anastasia Potapova, and she could be on for a quarter-final against defending champion Naomi Osaka, who plays Marie Bouzkova in round one.

Ashleigh Barty, who heads into her home slam at the top of the WTA rankings, begins her campaign against Lesia Tsurenko and could meet last year's runner-up Petra Kvitova in the last eight.

Fourth seed Simona Halep takes on Jennifer Brady in round one, with Maria Sharapova facing a difficult opener against Donna Vekic and second seed Karolina Pliskova meeting Kristina Mladenovic.

World number two Djokovic faces a tough start to his title defence in Melbourne against Jan-Lennard Struff, who climbed 20 places in the ATP rankings between January 2019 and this year.

Federer, seeking his 21st grand slam title and seventh in Australia, begins against American Steve Johnson and could face a round-of-16 match with Grigor Dimitrov, who won their last meeting at the quarter-final stage of the US Open.

Djokovic is on course to meet Federer in the semis but Stefanos Tsitsipas, who has beaten the Serbian twice in four meetings, may lie in wait first at the quarter-final stage.

World number one Rafael Nadal meets Hugo Dellien in the first round and could face home favourite Nick Kyrgios in round four.

Dominic Thiem could await Nadal in the quarter-finals, the Austrian beginning his quest for a maiden grand slam triumph against Adrian Mannarino.

World number four Daniil Medvedev has a difficult opening match against Frances Tiafoe, with Alexander Zverev a possible last-eight opponent.

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    Sixth seed Benoit Paire secured safe passage through to the last 16 of the Open 13 Marseille in one of three main-draw matches on Monday.

    Paire was drawn against compatriot Gregoire Barrere in a battle of two home hopefuls, but the more established player triumphed in straight sets.

    The 20th-ranked star broke in the third game of the opener and protected his advantage in straightforward fashion.

    There were no breaks in the second, but Paire dominated the tie-break to claim a 6-4 7-6 (7-1) victory.

    Barrere was not the only Frenchman to exit the competition, as former world number seven Richard Gasquet went down 6-3 3-6 7-5 to Mikael Ymer.

    Ymer will now meet Stefanos Tsitsipas, the defending champion and number two seed, who was granted a first-round bye.

    In the final match of the day, Alexander Bublik defeated Marton Fucsovics 6-4 7-5.

  • Clijsters takes solace in periods of dominance during Muguruza defeat Clijsters takes solace in periods of dominance during Muguruza defeat

    Kim Clijsters took solace in feeling like she had periods of dominance against Garbine Muguruza, who ensured the four-time major champion's comeback began with a defeat.

    Making her first appearance on the WTA Tour since the 2012 US Open, former world number one Clijsters fell to a 6-2 7-6 (8-6) defeat against Australian Open finalist Muguruza in the first round of the Dubai Tennis Championships.

    The 36-year-old dropped her first two service games in the second set but managed to get things back on serve and force a tie-break, something she was proud of despite her early exit.

    Clijsters said: "I felt obviously the second set was a big difference compared to the first set. My timing in the first set, my footing, just kept looking for it.

    "I felt a few times it was there, then it would be off a few points. At times I felt like I was close. I was seeing the ball clear. Just started reading her game better, as well, getting used to her pace a little bit.

    "Yeah, second set I felt I was really in the match. I felt like for a while I was dominating some of the points.

    "I think that's a good feeling to have, knowing the way I started the first set and then the way I was able to get back into that second set, with the type of tennis I played, it's something that is the positive about this match. I'll take that with me for the next matches.

    "I had a good feeling out there. I do feel a little bit of, I'm not going to say relief, but a feeling that the pace I can handle."

    Muguruza accepted she went into the match completely unsure of what to expect, with Clijsters representing something of an unknown quantity, though she is now anticipating the Belgian to cause problems for plenty of players.

    "I think she played very well, especially in the second set at the end," Muguruza said. "It was very tight.

    "I think this is just special because I didn't know how [Clijsters was] going to play. I know she can play incredible - she did at some point play [at an] incredible level. I haven't seen her play in so long, so it's like, 'Okay, what's going to happen?'

    "I'm sure she's going to get better and better, for sure, [and] give us a lot of trouble."

    Clijsters' fellow Belgian Elise Mertens was in action earlier in the day and had significantly fewer issues, cruising past Wang Qiang in straight sets.

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    Barbora Strycova came through a lengthy encounter with 18-year-old Amanda Animisova, beating the American 6-3 (7-3) 2-6 6-4 over two hours and 33 minutes, taking advantage of her opponent's proneness to errors.

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    Kim Clijsters was denied a dream return to the WTA Tour as she was beaten in straight sets by Garbine Muguruza at the Dubai Tennis Championships.

    Muguruza, runner-up at the recent Australian Open, triumphed 6-2 7-6 (8-6) in one hour and 37 minutes on Monday.

    Playing her first match since losing to Laura Robson in the second round of the US Open in August 2012, the Belgian was rusty at times as she racked up 10 double faults and gave up 15 break points.

    However, Clijsters' fight and impressive groundstrokes in the second set would have given her plenty of hope for the months ahead.

    Clijsters' opponent changed when Kiki Bertens withdrew from the event after winning in St Petersburg, but in-form Muguruza represented a similarly daunting first task in her comeback contest.

    The 36-year-old was broken in a 10-point opening game and dropped serve again later in the first set.

    She forced her first break points as Muguruza served for the opener at 5-2 but could not convert three opportunities as the Spaniard held.

    A slow start also impacted four-time major champion Clijsters in the second set, as Muguruza claimed an immediate break and then struck once more in her opponent's next service game to move 3-0 up.

    Clijsters showed grit and broke Muguruza for the first time in game four and later superbly claimed a second break to level matters, eventually forcing a tie-break.

    She won the first two points of the breaker only for her younger rival to go on a streak of four that included a superb cross-court forehand winner.

    At 6-5 in front, Muguruza hit a forehand long on her opening match point but she ultimately sealed victory with her next opportunity thanks to an unreturned serve

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