ANDY MURRAY has been seeded sixth for the first grand slam of 2015, the Australian Open, which gets under way on Monday.
Murray, three times a finalist in Melbourne, reached the quarter-finals 12 months ago in his first grand slam since undergoing back surgery the previous September.
Tournament officials went strictly by the world rankings released on Monday to determine the seedings list this year on both the men’s and women’s side.
Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams were installed as the top seeds, with four-time winner Djokovic looking to make up for his quarter-final exit last year at the hands of eventual champion Stanislas Wawrinka, who is seeded fourth behind Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. US Open finalist Kei Nishikori, of Japan, was seeded fifth.
Spain’s David Ferrer is the ninth seed following the withdrawal of US Open champion Marin Cilic with a shoulder injury, while 2008 Australian Open runner-up, France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, is also ruled out through injury.
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The top 32-ranked women make up the 32 seeds in Melbourne, with 2008 winner Maria Sharapova seeded second ahead of Romania’s Simona Halep and reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.
Murray will discover his first-round opponent at tomorrow’s draw, which will be attended by defending champions Wawrinka and Li Na, who was forced to retire last September because of persistent knee injuries.
Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka faces the prospect of drawing a top player in the first round after missing out on a seeding.
Last year was one to forget for Azarenka, with injuries to her left foot, then right knee and right foot restricting her to just 24 matches, and her WTA ranking has consequently dropped down to 41.
The former world No 1 won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013 and reached two grand slam quarter-finals in 2014.
But her first-round loss last week at the Brisbane International to Karolina Pliskova, after wasting two match points in the second set, cost her any chance of climbing back into the top 32. Dominika Cibulkova, the losing finalist last year at Melbourne Park, is seeded No 11. Eugenie Bouchard, the 20-year-old Canadian, who last year reached the semi-finals at the Australian and French Opens before making the Wimbledon final, is seeded No 7. Yesterday, Nadal had a strong training session at Melbourne Park, indicating he might be overcoming some recent health and injury issues. Nadal was sidelined for three months with a right wrist injury after Wimbledon.
He briefly returned at Beijing in late September where he advanced to the quarter-finals.
He then had appendix surgery in early November which he is still recovering from.
“This is the third comeback of my career after injury, so we will see how it goes,” Nadal said.
AUSTRALIAN OPEN TOP TEN SEEDS
1. Novak Djokovic (Serb)
2. Roger Federer (Swiss)
3. Rafael Nadal (Spain)
4. Stan Wawrinka (Swiss)
5. Kei Nishikori (Jpn)
6. Andy Murray (GB)
7. Tomas Berdych (Czech)
8. Milos Raonic (Can)
9. David Ferrer (Spain)
10. Grigor Dimitrov (Bull)
1. Serena Williams (USA)
2. Maria Sharapova (Rus)
3. Simona Halep (Rom)
4. Petra Kvitova (Czech)
5. Ana Ivanovic (Serb)
6. Agnieszka Radwanska (Pol)
7. Eugenie Bouchard (Can)
8. Caroline Wozniacki (Den)
9. Angelique Kerber (Ger)
10. Ekaterina Makarova (Rus)