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Australian Open 2020: Coco Gauff to play Venus Williams, Johanna Konta faces Jabeur

Johanna Konta’s best result at the Australian Open was reaching the semi-finals in 2016
2020 Australian Open
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 20 January to 2 February
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and online; Live text on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app.

American teenager Coco Gauff will again face Venus Williams in the first round of a Grand Slam after the pair were drawn together at the Australian Open.

Gauff, 15, announced her arrival on the biggest stage by beating 39-year-old Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam singles winner, at Wimbledon in July.

Britain’s Johanna Konta, seeded 12th, will play Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur.

In the men’s draw, British 30th seed Dan Evans meets American Mackenzie McDonald in Melbourne.

Evans, 29, is playing in his first Slam as Britain’s leading male player and could face Serbia’s defending champion Novak Djokovic in the third round.

Djokovic, who is aiming for a record-extending eighth title, does not have the easiest opener after being drawn against Germany’s world number 37 Jan-Lennard Struff.

The first Grand Slam of the year begins on Monday.

Wimbledon 2019: Watch the highlights as Coco Gauff beats Venus Williams

Swiss great Roger Federer has been drawn in the same half as second seed Djokovic, meaning the pair could meet in the semi-finals.

Federer, 38, starts against American Steve Johnson and has a favourable-looking draw, although Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov – who memorably beat the Swiss in the US Open quarter-finals in September – and Canada’s exciting talent Denis Shapovolov are potential opponents before the quarter-finals.

Spanish top seed Rafael Nadal plays against Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien in the first round, with the possibility of a blockbuster fourth-round match against Australia’s Nick Kyrgios.

The pair have not always seen eye-to-eye and met in a dramatic second-round match at Wimbledon last year, where Kyrgios tried to rattle Nadal with constant complaints about the Spaniard’s slow play.

British number two Cameron Norrie plays Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert in his opening match, while Kyle Edmund – who reached the semi-finals in Melbourne two years ago but has dropped to 69th in the world – has a tough opener against Serbia’s 24th seed Dusan Lajovic.

Russian fourth seed Daniil Medvedev, looking to win his first Grand Slam after reaching the 2019 US Open final, has been pitched against dangerous American floater Frances Tiafoe, who reached the quarter-finals last year.

Australia’s world number 21 Alex de Minaur pulled out on Thursday with an abdominal injury aggravated at last week’s ATP Cup.

Konta could face Serena Williams in last 16

With Gauff playing Venus Williams again, eyes were immediately focused on that section of the draw – an exciting quarter which also features Serena Williams among a host of stand-out names.

The 38-year-old takes on Russian 18-year-old Anastasia Potapova first as she aims for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title, and could face Gauff or her older sister in the quarter-finals.

Defending champion Naomi Osaka is also in the same quarter, the Japanese third seed starting against Czech Marie Bouzkova.

Briton Konta, who reached the semi-finals in Melbourne in 2016, is another pitched into this loaded part of the women’s draw.

Serena Williams is a possible opponent in the last 16 for the British number one, who could also face 2018 champion and former world number one Caroline Wozniacki in the third round.

The 29-year-old Dane, who enrolled at Harvard Business School in September and was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2018, is retiring after the tournament, saying she has realised “there is more to life”.

Britain’s Katie Boulter aims to put a season wrecked by injury behind her after using her protected ranking of 85 to enter the year’s first major, but must take on Ukrainian fifth seed Elina Svitolina in her opening match.

British number two Heather Watson, ranked 101st, will play Czech world number 62 Kristyna Pliskova, twin sister of second seed Karolina.

Karolina Pliskova, who is aiming for a first Grand Slam title, has a tricky opener against France’s former world number 10 Kristina Mladenovic.

Top seed and home favourite Ashleigh Barty opens against Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko.


BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller at Melbourne Park

Six months on from her famous victory on Wimbledon’s Court One, Coco Gauff is still just 15 years of age. Venus Williams, 39, missed her first two tournaments of the year through injury.

Gauff seems to be able to play without pressure, and takes the view ‘the bigger they are, the harder they fall’. What a start to the championships that will be.

Johanna Konta’s path through the draw is a very challenging one. She might run into both Caroline Wozniacki and Serena Williams before the fourth round is out.

But having played just one match since September, Konta will only be focused on her first round with the artistic Tunisian Ons Jabeur, who beat her in Eastbourne in June.

Katie Boulter only returned to the tour in November after six months out with a stress fracture. She has been playing lower level events to regain fitness, so Elina Svitolina is a brutal first-round draw.

Article courtesy of BBC Sport
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