/ Tennis

Wozniacki handed tough Australian draw

Updated: Friday, 13 Jan 2012 08:07

Caroline Wozniacki will have her work cut out at the Australian Open
Caroline Wozniacki will have her work cut out at the Australian Open

World number one Caroline Wozniacki could face French Open champion Li Na in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open following the draw for the season-opening grand slam.

The Danish top seed, whose world ranking is under threat from Petra Kvitova, also has defending champion Kim Clijsters, third seed Victoria Azarenka and the dangerous Agnieszka Radwanska in her top half of the women's singles draw.

Wozniacki is hunting a maiden grand slam title in Melbourne and opens her campaign against Australian Anastasia Rodionova.

Clijsters beat Li in last year's Australian Open final before the Chinese star went on to take the French Open at Roland Garros, in the process making history as the first Asian grand slam winner.

"For me playing Li Na in the final last year was one of the fun finals and one of the best finals that I've played so far in a grand slam," Clijsters said at the draw.

"It was a really tough match, we both played well in a close match and winning it gave me a lot of confidence and I was able to show the people here my best level and fight for it and there were a lot of emotions involved.

"For Li Na there was a lot of outside pressure from her country and a lot of expectations and I was happy to see her do well in Europe in the summer."

Li plays Ksenia Pervak of Kazakhstan in her opening match.

Wimbledon champion Kvitova, beaten by Li in Thursday's semi-finals of the Sydney International, will face tough opponents as she targets Open glory.

Thirteen-time grand slam champion Serena Williams, US Open champion Samantha Stosur and three-time major winner Maria Sharapova all share the Czech left-hander's bottom half of the draw.

Kvitova will open against Russian Vera Dushevina, while five-time Australian Open champion Williams, seeded 12 this year, takes on Austrian Tamira Paszek first up.

"It's definitely something that has changed over the last few years," Clijsters said of the many potential winners in this year's women's field.

"I remember when I was younger everybody was already pencilling in the top seeds, quarter-finals, semi-finals, and that's totally different now.

"It's a different mindset for a lot of the top players. You have to focus on the first round onwards because new players, players that I've never played against before, can cause upsets."

Stosur, drawn to face Kvitova in the quarter-finals and bidding to become the first Australian woman to win her national Open since 1978, begins against Romania's Sorana Cirstea.

Russia's Sharapova, who won in Melbourne four years ago, plays Argentina's Gisela Dulko in the first round.

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