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Nadal to face local hope Tomic in Australian Open

Spain's Rafal Nadal smiles as Argentina's David Nalbandian is seen on a large television screen during their exhibition tennis match in Buen
Spain's Rafal Nadal smiles as Argentina's David Nalbandian is seen on a large television screen during their exhibition tennis match in Buen

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - World number one Rafal Nadal will play local hope Bernard Tomic in the first round of the Australian Open as he bids for a 14th grand slam title.

The Spaniard faces a tough draw, with a potential fourth round clash with 16th-seeded Japanese Kei Nishikori before a possible quarter-final with Argentine Juan Martin del Potro.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic will play Slovakia's Lukas Lacko in the first round as he bids for his fourth successive title at Melbourne Park, according to the draw released on Friday.

The second seeded Serb has a relatively kind draw until the quarter-finals, where a likely clash against eighth seed Stanislas Wawrinka, who pushed him in a five-set marathon in last year's tournament, looms.

Andy Murray will play Japan's Go Soeda in the first round but has been drawn in the same quarter as 17-times grand slam champion Roger Federer.

In the women's draw, world number one Serena Williams will play Australian wildcard Ashleigh Barty in the first round as she bids for her 18th grand slam title and sixth at Melbourne Park.

The American's draw lines her up for a potentially tough fourth-round clash with Sam Stosur, who beat Williams in the final of the U.S. Open in 2011.

Double defending champion Victoria Azarenka, seeded second, will take on Swede Johanna Larsson according to the draw released on Friday.

Third seed Maria Sharapova will play American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, while fourth seed Li Na, runner-up at Melbourne Park last year, will play a qualifier.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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