Brits handed good draws

  • Last Updated: January 11 2013, 13:20 GMT

Britons Laura Robson and Heather Watson will both face lower-ranked opponents in the first round of the Australian Open.

Heather Watson and Laura Robson: Brit hopes in women's draw
Heather Watson and Laura Robson: Brit hopes in women's draw

Robson will play Melanie Oudin, while fellow-Brit Watson has been drawn against Romania's Alexandra Cadantu.

Oudin will hold no fears for Robson, who beat the American 6-3 6-4 in the first round of qualifying in Melbourne last year.

Oudin was tipped for great things a couple of years ago but has failed to make the breakthrough to the big time and is currently ranked 82 in the world - 32 places below Robson.

The reward for the victor of Tuesday's match will be a clash with a Grand Slam winner - either former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone or 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.

Robson will not mind taking either of them, with Kvitova in particular in dreadful form.

Watson, ranked 47th, had to pull out of the Hobart International this week because of an elbow injury. On paper she is favourite to beat Cadantu, the world No 89, on Monday.

But the pair did meet in a minor tournament in France last year, Cadantu winning 6-1 6-4.

If Watson prevails, Germany's Mona Barthel, the No 32 seed, is likely to be next, with the winner of that one set to face fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the last 32.

Defending champion Victoria Azarenka has a tricky first-round tie against Monica Niculescu of Romania.

Niculescu beat Robson in China last week, and is one of the rising stars of the women's tour.

Azarenka was forced to pull out of the Brisbane International last week at the semi-final stage due to a toe infection caused by a pedicure, but speaking at the draw she said: "It's much better. I have been practising for the last couple of days so I am really happy it's all gone and it's behind me."

Azarenka will be in the same half of the draw as Serena Williams, most pundits' favourite to win the tournament after her superb second half of the 2012 season when she won Wimbledon, Olympic gold and the US Open.

Williams will take on another Romanian, Edina Gallovits-Hall, first up.

Second seed Maria Sharapova, beaten in the final last year, will face fellow Russian Olga Puchkova in the first round.

Sharapova's most difficult obstacle in the first week may be Venus Williams, who she could meet in the third round.

Home hopes rest with Sam Stosur, the ninth seed, who famously struggles on Australian courts - and she will not have liked her first-round draw.

Her opponent, Kai-Chen Chang of Taiwan, beat her the last time they met, in Osaka in October.


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