Australian Open 2012: Djokovic and Wozniacki head seedings
Novak Djokovic and Caroline Wozniacki are confirmed as top seeds for the first Grand Slam of the year in Melbourne
With just one top player out of contention for the 2012 Australian Open, which begins in less than a week’s time in Melbourne, there were few surprises when the seedings were announced last night.
Novak Djokovic begins the defence of his title””indeed his defence of an outstanding year of titles””more than 4,000 points clear of the field at No1.
The position of the top women’s seed, Caroline Wozniacki, is much more fragile””she takes the No1 spot with an advantage of fewer than 300 points, and faces the prospect of beginning her campaign for a first Grand Slam as world No2 should Petra Kvitova win the Premier title in Sydney this week.
The missing player in Australia is men’s No13, Robin Soderling, who is still recovering from the glandular fever that has seen him unable to compete since winning his home tournament as world No5 in Bastad last July.
While many of the contestants continue to play tour events this week that may affect their rankings, these will not affect the seedings. Indeed only a few of the results from the three ATP and two WTA tournaments of last week have had an impact.
On the women’s tour, the title for Kaia Kanepi in Brisbane is rewarded with a seeding””she climbed from No34 to 26″”at the expense of Petra Cetkovska. Jie Zheng, who won in Auckland, climbed 10 places but remains outside the seedings at No38.
In the men’s seedings, there is one significant beneficiary from last week’s tournaments, though he has not played an ATP event since reaching the semi-finals of the Paris Masters last November. John Isner has climbed to No17 at the expense of Stan Wawrinka, who failed to defend the Chennai title.
In so doing, Isner not only enjoys a career-high ranking but grabs the No16 seeding for Melbourne, and that means he will not face another top-16 player before the fourth round.
Other men reaching career-high rankings this week and also seeded in Melbourne for the first time are Alexandr Dologopolov””he was ranked 46 when he reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open last year””and Milos Raonic. The 21-year-old Canadian’s win in Chennai takes him to 25 in the rankings and a seeding of 24, thus avoiding the top eight in the third round.
Raonic will be a dangerous opponent for both seeded and unseeded men, having already scored a significant run through three qualifying and three main draw wins in last year’s Australian Open before falling to David Ferrer in the fourth round.
Another huge””and hugely talented””youngster, Bernard Tomic, just fails to make the seedings despite a climb to a career high of 35 this week, but he will be a player who the seeds hope to avoid during the first week: The teenager has climbed from 199 since bursting through to the third round in Melbourne a year ago.
While the seedings cannot be affected by results in Sydney, Auckland and Hobart this week, they can be affected by injury.
In the women’s draw, Flavia Pennetta (No20) retired from the Auckland final with a back injury at the weekend, Sabine Lisicki (No15) retired from Auckland’s quarters with an abdomen strain, and Julia Goerges (No23) retired with viral illness in the first round of Sydney this week. One place outside the seedings, Cetkovska has withdrawn from Hobart with a thigh injury.
While big names Serena Williams and defending champion Kim Clijsters retired with ankle and hip strains respectively last week, both have expressed confidence in being fit to play in Melbourne. Meanwhile Maria Sharapova, who has been troubled by an ankle injury sustained in Tokyo last autumn, seems back to fitness and is practising in Melbourne this week.
There are some injury concerns amongst the men’s seeds, too, most notably No3 Roger Federer, who withdrew from Doha with a back problem ahead of his semi-final. He, too, expressed confidence that he would recover in time for the Australian Open and his coach, Paul Annacone, tweeted from practice on Sunday that: “back making progress.”
Despite concerns at the start of the year about Rafael Nadal’s shoulder, prompted by an announcement that he would not play during February in order to rehabilitate a persistent problem, his form looked solid in reaching the Doha semi-finals.
Dolgopolov is nursing a groin injury that impeded his play against Andy Murray in the final of Brisbane, No21 seed Florian Mayer retired in the first round of Brisbane and withdrew from Sydney, also with a groin injury, and one spot outside the seedings at No33, Alex Bogomolov Jr withdrew from Doha with an ankle problem.
Watch out for analyses of the men’s and women’s draws, which will be made around midnight GMT this Thursday/Friday.
Men’s top 16 seeds:
1 Novak Djokovic (Ser)
2 Rafael Nadal (Spa)
3 Roger Federer (Swi)
4 Andy Murray (GB)
5 David Ferrer (Spa)
6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Fra)
7 Tomas Berdych (Cze)
8 Mardy Fish (US)
9 Janko Tipsarevic (Ser)
10 Nicolas Almagro (Spa)
11 Juan Martin Del Potro (Arg)
12 Gilles Simon (Fra)
13 Alexandr Dolgopolov (Ukr)
14 Gael Monfils (Fra)
15 Andy Roddick (US)
16 John Isner (US)
Women’s top 16 seeds:
1 Caroline Wozniacki (Den)
2 Petra Kvitova (Cze)
3 Victoria Azarenka (Blr)
4 Maria Sharapova (Rus)
5 Li Na (Chn)
6 Samantha Stosu, (Aus)
7 Vera Zvonareva (Rus)
8 Agnieszka Radwanska (Pol)
9 Marion Bartoli (Fra)
10 Andrea Petkovic (Ger)
11 Francesca Schiavone (Ita)
12 Kim Clijsters (Bel)
13 Serena Williams (US)
14 Jelena Jankovic (Ser)
15 Sabine Lisicki (Ger)
16 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Rus)
The full 32-player lists of men’s and women’s seeds can be found on the Australian Open website.