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Serena and Sharapova on track to meet in Australian Open quarters

AFP logoAFP 15-01-2016
Serena Williams of the US takes part in a practice session ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 15, 2016 © Provided by AFP Serena Williams of the US takes part in a practice session ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 15, 2016

World number one and top seed Serena Williams faces a potential quarter-final with long time rival Maria Sharapova at next week's Australian Open following Friday's draw.

Williams, who is chasing her seventh Australian crown and 22nd Grand Slam title after beating Sharapova in last year's final, will have a testing start against Italian Camila Giorgi, the highest ranked non-seeded player in the women's draw.

She could also meet former world number one Caroline Wozniacki in the fourth round before a possible showdown with Sharapova, who has failed to beat Williams since 2004.

The American, who also won Wimbledon and the French Open in a glittering 2015 season, has been troubled by a knee injury since the US Open in September, but said at the draw that she was in good shape for the year's opening major.

Maria Sharapova of Russia takes part in a practice session ahead of the Australian Open, in Melbourne, on January 14, 2016 © Provided by AFP Maria Sharapova of Russia takes part in a practice session ahead of the Australian Open, in Melbourne, on January 14, 2016

"Everything is really well and I am feeling really good," Williams said. "I've been training every day for so long and I'm ready."

Williams is expected to play on Monday while the women's bottom half of the draw will start on Tuesday.

Romanian second seed Simona Halep, who faces a qualifier first up, is drawn to meet Serena's elder sister and eighth seed Venus Williams in the quarters.

Poland's fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who faces American Christina McHale first, has a potential last-eight clash with Czech sixth seed and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.

Two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka, who won the Brisbane International last weekend, could face Spanish third seed Garbine Muguruza in the fourth round, while German seventh seed Angelique Kerber is drawn to meet Muguruza or Azarenka in the quarters.

Quarter-final projections in draw order:

Serena Williams v Maria Sharapova

Agnieszka Radwanska v Petra Kvitova

Garbine Muguruza v Angelique Kerber

Venus Williams v Simona Halep

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