Djokovic to battle rising South Korean first up

Thu Jan 14, 2016 9:59pm EST
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic's road to a sixth Australian Open title starts with a first-round match against South Korean young gun Chung Hyeon, while women's champion Serena Williams faces feisty Italian Camila Giorgi.

A rising star of Asian tennis, 19-year-old Chung was voted the ATP's most improved player last season after his ranking soared into the top 60 from 173 at the end of 2014.

"That's not going to be an easy match," American super-coach Paul Annacone told reporters at Melbourne Park during the draw ceremony on Friday.

"Novak's going to be tested right from the start."

The iron-willed Serb otherwise enjoys a kind run in the draw's top quarter, with a potential last eight match-up against seventh seed Kei Nishikori his first against a top-10 player.

Second seed Andy Murray, runner-up to Djokovic last year, will play another emerging talent in 18-year-old Belgian Alexander Zverev as the Briton bids for a first trophy in Melbourne after four trips to the final.

Third seed Roger Federer faces 117th-ranked Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili in the first round while compatriot Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 champion and fourth seed, plays Russian veteran Dmitry Tursunov, now ranked 265 in the world.

Fifth seed Rafa Nadal, the 2009 winner, has an all-Spanish encounter in the first round against Fernando Verdasco before a possible quarter-final against Wawrinka.   Continued...

Serbia's Novak Djokovic hits a shot during a practice session at Melbourne Park, Australia, January 13, 2016. The Australian Open tennis tournament starts January 18.   REUTERS/David Gray