Australians Bernard Tomic and Ashleigh Barty have been asked to do the near impossible at the Australian Open, drawing the top men’s and women’s seeds in the first round.
Tomic, currently defending his Sydney International title, was drawn on line two meaning a guaranteed clash with world number one Rafael Nadal to kick off his Melbourne Park campaign.
But Tomic is not the only Australian male staring down the barrel of a brutal opening clash, with James Duckworth to face Roger Federer and world number 16 Kei Nishikori awaiting Marinko Matosevic.
Wildcard play-off winner Jordan Thompson will also have to beat a seed to progress past the opening round with 20th seed Jerzy Janowicz his first match-up.
Lleyton Hewitt does not have a walkover either, facing 24th-seeded Italian Andreas Seppi in the first round.
Further down the rankngs, Australian teenagers Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis drew Benjamin Becker and Igor Sijsling, while big-serving wildcard Sam Groth will take on 28th seed Vasek Pospisil of Canada.
Finally, Matthew Ebden will take on Frenchman Nicolas Mahut and could face Groth in the second round if both get through.
Reigning champion Novak Djokovic will meet Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko in round one, while third seed David Ferrer’s first opponent will be Colombian Alejandro Gonzalez. Wimbledon champion Andy Murray’s first hit-out will be against Go Soeda.
Aussie women have work cut out for them
On the women’s side of the draw, 17-year-old Queenslander Ashleigh Barty will face the might of the all-conquering world number one Serena Williams in the first round.
Barty, playing in her ninth grand slam, will be the first speed bump for Williams as the American aims to win her 18th major.
Barty may have to find solace in the doubles tournament, where she is competing with regular partner Casey Dellacqua, who is facing former world number two Vera Zvonareva in round one.
Australia’s top hope on the women’s side, world number 17 Samantha Stosur, did not have the easiest of draws, picked to meet world number 37 Klara Zakopalova in the opening round.
If she can survive that, she will face Sydney finalist Tsvetena Pironkova in the second, followed by tough matches against grand slam champions Ana Ivanovic and Williams.
Jarmila Gajdosova will have her work cut out for her when she goes up against ninth-seeded German Angelique Kerber.
Olivia Rogowska and Storm Sanders can expect to see plenty of the outside courts, drawn against world number 102 Mariana Duque-Marino and world number 97 Camila Giorgi respectively.
Reigning Melbourne champion Victoria Azarenka will take on Sweden’s Johanna Larsson in her opening round while third seed Maria Sharapova has an interesting first clash with American Bethanie Mattek-Sands in store.
Fourth seed Li Na will face a qualifier.