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Nadal, Serena earn top seeds: Current number one players named top seeds for Aussie Open set to start next Monday

TENNIS By –AP and BBC | January 9th 2014

MELBOURNE

Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal

As expected, No. 1-ranked Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams have been made the top seeds at the Australian Open which begins on Monday at Melbourne Park.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic is the No. 2-seeded man, followed by David Ferrer, Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, Juan Martin del Potro and 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer at sixth.

On the women’s side, defending champion Victoria Azarenka is No. 2, followed by Maria Sharapova, Li Na, Agnieszka Radwanska and former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in sixth.

The 32 seeds were only altered twice from the rankings, both because of injuries. No. 29-ranked Jurgen Melzer is not playing due to a left shoulder injury and Maria Kirilenko, who would have been seeded 18th, has a left knee injury.

Meanwhile, British number two Dan Evans is confident he can reach a second straight Grand Slam after a fine start at the Australian Open qualifying.

Evans beat Liang-Chi Huang of Taiwan 6-1 6-2 in the first round of qualifying in Melbourne, and will next play Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics.

British number three James Ward, meanwhile, lost 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 to Italy’s Andrea Arnobaldi.

Fellow Brit Dan Cox went down 6-4 6-1 to American Denis Kudla.

“I’m pretty confident I’ll come through but quite a lot can happen through the next two matches,” Evans told BBC Sport.

“I had a good pre-season so I feel as good as anyone in the tournament, I’m sure.”

Evans played in the main draw of a Grand Slam for the first time outside of Wimbledon when he qualified for the US Open in August, and the 23-year-old from Solihull in the West Midlands is determined to repeat the performance.

After saving four break points in the opening game against Huang, the Briton  –  ranked 115 places higher at 149 in the world – played some high-quality attacking tennis to win in 61 minutes.

“I need to come through [qualifying] again,” said Evans. “I won that first match pretty comfortably, played well, and if I keep playing like that I should put myself in some good positions in the matches to come to get through.

“Obviously [qualifying at the US Open] gives you more confidence, but you’ve still got to win the three matches.

“I was probably a bit more confident going into the US Open, I’d played a load of matches, but I’ve started the year pretty well and I’ve got a decent chance now to come through.”

Evans began 2014 by qualifying for the main draw in Doha and then taking a set off world number 24 Ernests Gulbis, but he admitted he had been disappointed not to build on his success in New York in the final months of 2013.“I was pretty tired, I didn’t take any sort of rest,” he said.              

  ––AP and BBC

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