Rafael Nadal loses to Richard Gasquet at Kooyong Classic

Six-times Melbourne Park champion Djokovic, seeded 14th after missing the back end of last season with an elbow injury, will take on American lefthander Donald Young in his first match with mercurial Frenchman Gael Monfils looming in round two.

With the first balls to be hit at this year's Australian Open in just a matter of hours, players and officials will gather on Thursday night for the official draw.

Nadal heads defending champion Roger Federer at the top of the men's seedings, with Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki seeded one and two in the women's competition.

Seven-time grand slam winner Venus Williams has a tough opener against Belinda Bencic and will face 12th seed Julia Goerges in the fourth round if the seeds hold.

The reigning Wimbledon champion Garbiñe Muguruza, seeded third, rounds out the top half of the draw.

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"I don't usually like going to draws, I just want to see the sheet".

Doubt was cast over whether Djokovic would be fit to play in the Australian Open, which starts on Monday, when he withdrew from warm-up events in Abu Dhabi and Doha. Federer could face seventh-seeded David Goffin or 12th-seeded Juan Martín del Potro in the quarterfinals.

"Obviously I've had great results here in the past but I'll take it more modestly and see how it goes". However, Serena announced her decision to withdraw from the Australian Open last week stating that she didn't feel ready to compete at the highest level.

The 19-time Grand Slam winner is hoping to repeat his success from 2017 and establish himself as the greatest player the world has ever seen.

It was the test he sorely needed, the 30-year-old said, and one he was pleased to pass with flying colours.

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It is those who have failed to make the trip Down Under - or those who have limped here carrying injuries - who are causing a stir and, as a result, both draws are supposed to be there for the taking by any young hopeful with a bit of a courage and a hefty forehand.

First up, the 36-year-old Swiss will play Ajaz Bedene of Slovenia. Players are coming out of the off-season, often without much match practice.

Former world number one Novak Djokovic faces a brutal challenge if he is to win the Australian Open in his comeback to tennis.

It was the 12-time Grand Slam winner's first competitive outing since losing a Wimbledon quarter-final to Tomas Berdych last July. Her public stance against same-sex marriage, which is now legal in Australia after a vote last year, has led to renewed calls that Margaret Court Arena should be renamed. He is three clear of Nadal in the number of Slams, as he begins his 2018 calendar at Melbourne.

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