Tennis: Sharapova to face Makarova in Brisbane 1st round, Halep and Federer top seeds

Maria Sharapova (pictured) will play world No. 23 Ekaterina Makarova in her first round for the Brisbane International.
Maria Sharapova (pictured) will play world No. 23 Ekaterina Makarova in her first round for the Brisbane International.PHOTO: REUTERS

BRISBANE (AFP) - Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova will open her Australian campaign with a match against compatriot Ekaterina Makarova following Friday's draw for the Brisbane International.

The defending champion and third seed will play the world No. 23 in a rematch of last year's Australian Open semi-final.

"This was a Grand Slam semi-final last year in Australia," five-time grand slam champion Sharapova told reporters.

"For a first match, it's a pretty high-quality match against a pretty tough opponent."

World No. 4 Sharapova, 28, who beat Ana Ivanovic in last year's Brisbane final but lost to world No. 1 Serena Williams in Melbourne, leads Makarova 6-0 in their past meetings.

World No. 2 and top seed Simona Halep has drawn a bye for her opening round but could face two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka in the second round.

Spain's Garbine Muguruza is the second seed. After a first-round bye she will face either American Varvara Lepchenko or Slovakian Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

The women's field boasts nine of the world's top 20 as well as former world No. 1s Azarenka and Jelena Jankovic.

In the men's draw, Australian wild card Ben Mitchell or a qualifier are in line to become top seed Roger Federer's first opponent in 2016.

The 17-time Swiss grand slam champion will receive a first-up bye.

Australian seventh seed Bernard Tomic will take on Frenchman Nicolas Mahut in the first round.

The tournament begins on Sunday.