SPORTS

Nadal, Federer on same side of Aussie Open draw

01/12/2012 07:21 EST | Updated 03/13/2012 05:12 EDT

For the first time in nearly seven years at a Grand Slam event, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will be on the same half of the men's singles draw.

Nadal and Federer will both play qualifiers in their first matches at the Australian Open, according to the draw held on Friday morning in Melbourne.

The two tennis titans, who've combined for 26 Grand Slam championships, won't be eligible to meet in the final of a major for the first time since the 2005 French Open.

That is because of the emergence of Novak Djokovic as the new No. 1 player in the men's game.

The Serbian went 70-6 on the tour in 2011, including an Aussie Open title among his three majors for the year. He'll play 108th-ranked Italian Paolo Lorenzo in his first match.

Fourth seed Andy Murray, who's finished as runner up in the last two Australian Opens, takes on 84th-ranked American Ryan Harrison in his first match.

Murray has hired eight-time major winner Ivan Lendl as his coach in hopes of breaking through for a first Grand Slam title.

Canadian Milos Raonic won last week's Chennai Open to move up to 25th in the ATP rankings, but he was done few favours by the draw.

The 21-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., opens against Filippo Volandri of Italy, and should he get the past the second round, the path in the subsequent two rounds could entail meeting Andy Roddick of the United States and then Djokovic.

Despite the tough draw, Raonic was singled out by tennis legend John McEnroe, who was on hand for the draw in Melbourne.

"To me, he's one of the guys who has a chance to be a Grand Slam winner," McEnroe said of Raonic.

Peter Polansky, also of Thornhill, and Vancouver's Vasek Pospisil are trying to get to the main 64-man draw through qualifying, as is Pierre-Ludovic Duclos of Sainte-Foy, Que.

Defending champion Kim Clijsters and runner-up Li Na could meet in the fourth round after they were drawn in the same quarter on Friday.

Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki will play Australian Anastasia Rodionova in her first-round match and is in the same half as Clijsters and Li, last year's French Open champion.

In the other half of the draw, five-time champion Serena Williams is in the same section of No. 3 Vera Zvonereva and former Grand Slam champions Svetlana Kuznetsova and Maria Sharapova.

There are a trio of Canadians in the women's singles draw.

Vancouver's Rebecca Marino will take on Greta Arn of Hungary, Aleksandra Wozniak of Blainville, Que., meets Shuai Zhang of China, and Stephanie Dubois of Laval, Que., matches up against Elena Vesnina of Russia

Marino, if she is victorious, could then face seeded Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova, Serena Williams looms as a likely third round foe.

Should Wozniak advance, she could be in line to face No. 2 Petra Kvitova in the third round.

The main draws of the Australian Open begin Monday.

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