MELBOURNE: Roger Federer faces a potential quarter-final against Russian bogeyman Nikolay Davydenko following Friday’s Australian Open draw, as the world number one chases a 16th Grand Slam title.
Davydenko, the sixth seed, has beaten the Swiss legend at their previous two meetings and could pose another test as top-seeded Federer goes after a fourth Australian title.
Davydenko beat Federer in straight sets in the semi-finals at Doha this month and also mastered him at the ATP World Tour Finals event in London in November.
Federer will open the tournament against Russian world number 36 Igor Andreev and could face either Lleyton Hewitt or Marcos Baghdatis, both former Australian Open finalists, in the fourth round.
Serb Novak Djokovic, who beat Federer in the semi-finals of the 2008 Australian Open on the way to winning his first Grand Slam, was drawn in the same top half of the men’s draw as the world number one.
Third-seeded Djokovic is drawn to face French Open finalist Robin Soderling of Sweden in the quarters before a potential tilt at Federer in the semis.
In the bottom half of the draw, world number two and defending champion Rafael Nadal could run up against British title contender Andy Murray in the quarters.
Nadal, who beat Federer in last year’s five-set final in Melbourne, opens against Australian Davis Cup player Peter Luczak, while fifth-seeded Murray takes on a qualifier first up.
Another prospective quarter-final looms between US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, the fourth seed, and Wimbledon finalist Andy Roddick.
Veteran Frenchman Fabrice Santoro, 37, who will become the first player to participate in 70 Grand Slam tournaments stretched over four decades, faces Croatian 14th seed Marin Cilic in the first round.