Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer seeded first, second for Australian Open


MELBOURNE, Australia — Top-ranked Rafael Nadal and defending champion Roger Federer have been seeded first and second for the Australian Open, meaning they can only play each other at Melbourne Park this month if they set up a rematch of last year’s final.

Federer was coming off an extended injury break and was seeded 17th at last year’s Australian Open when he beat Nadal, who was seeded ninth, in five sets in the final. Grigor Dimitrov, a semifinalist here last year, is seeded third and six-time champion Novak Djokovic — coming back from a six-month injury layoff — is 14th.

The seedings for the season’s first major tournament reflected the rankings in both singles tournaments. The draw was scheduled for later Thursday.

Serena Williams decided not to defend her Australian title, saying that just four months after giving birth to her first child, her tennis hadn’t yet returned to a level where she felt she could win a Grand Slam title.

Two-time French Open finalist Simona Halep, yet to win a major, is seeded No. 1 in the women’s draw, with Caroline Wozniacki at No. 2 and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza at No. 3.

Venus Williams, who lost the Australian final to her younger sister Serena last year, is seeded fifth. French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko is seeded No. 7 and US Open winner Sloane Stephens is No. 13.

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