MELBOURNE (AFP) - World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and his US Open conqueror Andy Murray have been put in separate halves of the men's singles draw at the Australian Open, starting in Melbourne on Monday.
In the official draw made on Friday, Djokovic faces a potential semi-final against Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer, while 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer could face world No. 3 Murray in the last four.
Djokovic, bidding for a hat-trick of Australian Open victories after downing Rafael Nadal in a titanic five-set final last year, will start his defence against Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu in the first round.
Second seed Federer, bidding for his fifth Australian title, begins his Melbourne campaign against Frenchman Benoit Paire, while Murray takes on Dutchman Robin Haase first up.
Eleven-time Grand Slam winner Nadal will miss the year-opening slam with a stomach virus.
Fifth seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic starts against American Michael Russell.
In other prominent first-round pairings, former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, unseeded this year, takes on Serbian eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic, while in-form fellow Australian Bernard Tomic faces Argentina's Leonardo Mayer.
Leading Asian ranked player Kei Nishikori of Japan takes on Romanian Victor Hanescu first up and has been drawn in the second quarter with Ferrer.
Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a finalist here in 2008 and seeded seven, opens against fellow countryman Michael Llodra.