Melbourne, Australia, 13 January 2012 | AAP
Bernard Tomic has been handed a tough first-round match-up in the Australian Open, drawing Spanish 22nd seed Fernando Verdasco.
If the world No.37 Australian can get past former Melbourne Park semi-finalist Verdasco, he faces a possible fourth round match against four-time Open champion Roger Federer.
The Swiss great has been drawn against a qualifier in the opening round, as has Spaniard Rafael Nadal.
The news was better for veteran Lleyton Hewitt, who will play German Cedric-Marcel Stebe in the opening round. Should he win Hewitt could face 15th seed and old rival Andy Roddick in his next match, with the American expected to get past Dutchman Robin Haase.
Surging Aussie Matthew Ebden has avoided a seed in his opening match, drawing Brazilian Joao Souza. A second round match looms against exciting Japanese No.24 seed Kei Nishikori.
Wildcard James Duckworth, who reached the second round at last week’s Brisbane International, has drawn a qualifier in his first main draw appearance at Melbourne Park.
For the other Aussie wildcards in the draw, their task is much tougher.
Marinko Matosevic, who defeated Duckworth in the Australian Open Wildcard Play-off final in December, is scheduled to take on No.14 seed Gael Monfils. Greg Jones has drawn 2011 Australian Open quarterfinalist Alexandr Dolgopolov, and Ben Mitchell faces giant-serving No.16 seed John Isner of the US.
Defending champion Novak Djokovic faces Italian Paolo Lorenzi, while the highlight of the first round is the match between twice Australian Open finalist Andy Muray and rising American talent Ryan Harrison.