Djokovic seeded 14th in Australia, Nadal top

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Former champion Novak Djokovic made a winning return on Wednesday. AFP

MELBOURNE (AFP) – Six-time champion Novak Djokovic will lurk as 14th seed for next week’s Australian Open in Melbourne, with Rafael Nadal seeded top, organisers said on Thursday.

Nadal heads defending champion Roger Federer at the top of the men’s seedings, with Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki seeded one and two in the women’s competition.

The seedings have gone largely according to the ATP world rankings, although Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori are out injured and women’s champion Serena Williams opted not to play after giving birth in September.

Djokovic made a winning return on Wednesday after six months out with an elbow injury, declaring he felt “great” after beating world number five Dominic Thiem 6-1, 6-4 at the Kooyong Classic.

It was the 12-time Grand Slam winner’s first competitive outing since losing a Wimbledon quarter-final to Tomas Berdych last July.

The Serbian former world number one had pulled out of a warm-up tournament in Abu Dhabi, raising concerns over his fitness ahead of the year’s opening Grand Slam.

Federer, seeded second, and will bid for his 20th Grand Slam title in the bottom half of the draw.

Former winner Stan Wawrinka, who hasn’t played since Wimbledon but said he has recovered sufficiently from a knee injury, is seeded at nine.

In a women’s field notably missing 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, there appear to be many chances of a new Australian Open champion this year.

Seven-time champion Williams announced last week she wouldn’t defend her title, saying she was “super close” but not quite ready to compete so soon after becoming a mother.

Spain’s Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza is seeded three, while Serena’s sister Venus has the fifth seeding.

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