World number ones Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams have been given the top seeds for this week’s Australian Open to be played from 19th Jan to 1st Feb, but 2 time champion Victoria Azarenka could not even make the top 32 after falling in the rankings in the first weeks of 2015.
Djokovic is vying for his 5th trophy at Melbourne Park after tumbling out in the quarterfinals last year to the ultimate champion Stanislas Wawrinka, while Serena will be competing for her 6th Australian title. Evergreen Roger Federer, who has a record 17 Grand Slam titles, is the 2nd seed ahead of injury-plagued Rafael Nadal, Wawrinka and U.S. Open finalist Kei Nishikori of Japan is seeded 5th, one spot ahead of three-time Australian Open finalist Andy Murray from Great Britain.
Maria Sharapova, who won the Brisbane International last weekend, has taken the number 2 seeding amidst the women, ahead of Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova and Ana Ivanovic. Last year’s champion Li Na has already retired and won’t be defending her Australian title. Dominika Cibulkova, the losing finalist last year at Melbourne Park, is seeded No. 11. Genie Bouchard, the 20-year-old Canadian who last year reached the semifinals at the Australian and French Opens before making the Wimbledon final, is seeded No. 7.
Azarenka concluded 2014 ranked 32 in the world, but her shocking first-round loss at the Brisbane International to Karolina Pliskova last week, after squandering two match points in the second set, hurt her prospects of climbing back into the top 32 in the latest rankings. This meant she has dropped to 41, outside the cut-off for seedings at Melbourne Park. The Belarussian won back-to-back Australian Open titles in 2012 and 2013, but has been battling a series of fitness and personal issues since last year. Foot and knee injuries had confined Azarenka to only 9 tournaments in 2014, and she ended outside the top 10 for the first time since 2008.
Organizers of Grand Slam tournaments decide the 32 seeded players in the men’s and women’s draws, but seldom stray away from the official WTA or ATP rankings in assembling the lists.
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