Federer, Sharapova top seeds for Open - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Federer, Sharapova top seeds for Open

By Mike Hedge 11/01/2007 06:00:17 PM Comments (0)

Australian Open organisers have played it by the book, naming Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova the top seeds for the championship which begins on Monday.

Both are the highest-ranked players in the event. Sharapova claimed the position by default following the withdrawal of world No.1 Justine Henin-Hardenne.

For Federer the top line of the draw is familiar territory.

The reigning world No.1 has been there in the past 11 grand slams, winning nine of them.

Sharapova, the world No.2, has only once previously been the top seed in a major, claiming the position at the last US Open.

"I don't see it as putting any extra pressure on me," Sharapova said.

"Whatever you are seeded you've just got to go out and play your matches."

Federer didn't need to be asked how he felt about being the top seed.

The Swiss player is a virtual certainty to move one step closer to Pete Sampras' record of 14 grand slam singles titles by the time the Open ends a fortnight from Sunday.

Federer finished 2006 on top of the rankings for the third successive year and goes into the Open more fresh and relaxed than ever.

Despite a couple of notable absences, the 2007 Open is shaping as one of the strongest ever.

Should second seed Rafael Nadal make it to the first round as expected, the men's draw will boast all of the worlds top 20 players.

In women's singles, 18 of the top 20 will line up.

There is also eight former world No.1s and a remarkable 97 of the top 100 men and 94 of the top 100 women.

Federer comes to the championship on the back of a season in which he collected 12 titles, including three Grand Slams, four Masters Series crowns and the year-ending Tennis Masters Cup.

Nadal won five times last year, including the French Open.

The Spanish world No.2 missed last year's Open with an injury, his best result in Australia being a fourth round appearance in 2005 when he was beaten in five-sets by Lleyton Hewitt.

The men's seedings also include the in-form Novak Djokovic at No.14.

The 19-year-old Serb won the Adelaide International last week defeating Australia's Chris Guccione in the final.

One place below Djokovic in the seedings at No.15 is Britain's Andy Murray who won his first ATP title last year in San Jose.

Sharapova won five titles in 2006, including the US Open crown and has been a semi-finalist in Melbourne for the past two years.

Defending Champion, Amelie Mauresmo is the second seed after winning two grand slam titles last year.

If Sharapova slips up, there is a team of Russian compatriots to take her place.

Eight Russian women are seeded at the Open, including 2004 US Open Champion Svetlana Kuznetsova (3), Nadia Petrova (5), Elena Dementieva (7), Dinara Safina (9), Anna Chakvetadze (12), Vera Zvonareva (22) and Maria Kirilenko (26).

The Open draw is held on Friday.

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