Top-16 seed beckons for Barty at Australian Open
Following the withdrawal of Svetlana Kuznetsova, Australia's Ash Barty could be elevated to 16th seeding - improving her chances of a more favourable draw at Australian Open 2018.
Ash Barty is in line for a precious Australian Open top-16 seeding following the withdrawal of world No.12 Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Russia’s two-time Grand Slam champion is out after undergoing wrist surgery, with China’s Saisai Zheng the only other top-100 player not contesting the year’s first major at Melbourne Park.
Kuznetsova’s scratching leaves Barty as the 16th-highest ranked player in the women’s 128-strong draw, ensuring the big home hope will avoid top-eight rival until at least the fourth round.
The Newcombe Medallist will be among three Australian seeds when the biggest and richest event on the annual sporting calendar gets underway on 15 January.
World No.25 Daria Gavrilova will again be seeded as she strives to reach the second week for the third year in a row.
Nick Kyrgios is currently ranked 21st but could improve his seeding with a strong showing at the Brisbane International starting on 31 December.
Every top 100 player in the men’s rankings has entered, with six-time champion Novak Djokovic, five-time runner-up Andy Murray and 2014 winner Stan Wawrinka among a host of big names making their returns from injury.
Rafael Nadal and new women’s world No.1 Simona Halep will be the top seeds as 36-year-olds Roger Federer and Serena Williams attempt to defend their crowns.
Queenslander John Millman is expected to use an injury-protected ranking to gain entry to the men’s main draw alongside Kyrgios and fellow Australians Jordan Thompson and wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis.
At least one more local will join the quarter following next week’s wildcard playoff.
Former US Open champion Sam Stosur, Australian Pro Tour winner Olivia Rogowksa and the wildcard playoff winner will join Barty and Gavrilova in the women’s event.
The winner of tomorrow’s 18/u Australian Championships final between Destanee Aiava and Jaimee Fourlis will also join the Aussie contingent in the main draw.
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley is looking forward to welcoming the world’s best players to Melbourne.
“We have yet another strong field,” Tiley said in revealing the official entry list on Friday.
“Last year’s tournament broke all of the records and we look forward to welcoming back new mum Serena as she attempts to equal Margaret Court’s 24 grand slam (singles titles).
“We are definitely a family-friendly event and many players including reigning champion Roger Federer travel with their children to Melbourne so we remain optimistic that she will return.
“We have been in regular contact with Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori and Stan Wawrinka, who are all set for the Aussie summer.
“They will all have lower rankings meaning there’s a real chance we’ll finally see a breakthrough from one of the rising stars like Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem or David Goffin.”