Agassi, Roddick looking at tough draws
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Defending champion Roger Federer and four-time winner Andre Agassi could meet in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open after both landed in the top quarter of Friday's draw for the season's first Grand Slam event.
Top-ranked Federer won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open last season, the first man since Mats Wilander in 1988 to win three of the season's four majors.
Federer, a 23-year-old from Switzerland, will open against Fabrice Santoro of France and could meet Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand in the third round, Agassi in the quarterfinals and 2004 runner-up Marat Safin, seeded fourth, in the semifinals.
In the women's draw, top-ranked Lindsay Davenport, the 2000 champion, could meet eighth-seeded Venus Williams in the quarterfinals and French Open champion Anastasia Myskina, ranked third, in the semifinals.
Agassi, the Australian Open champion in 1995, 2000, '01 and '03, is seeded eighth. Although his status for the championship was in doubt after he retired in the first set of a tuneup match against Andy Roddick on Thursday because of an injured his right hip, Agassi told ESPN on Friday in Melbourne.
Agassi, 34, whose 26-match winning steak at Melbourne Park ended in a semifinal loss to Safin last year, faces a qualifier in the first round and 2003 runner-up Rainer Schuettler in the second. Fellow American Taylor Dents looms as a third-round opponent.
"It's tough section for Andre, he'll have to be 100 percent fit," Australian Open tournament director Paul McNamee said. Organizers had no update on Agassi's condition. He was due to have medical tests Friday on his hip.
Second-ranked Roddick will open against Irakli Labadze and face either Greg Rusedski or Jonas Bjorkman in the second round. He could meet Sebastien Grosjean in the fourth round, seventh-seeded Tim Henman in the quarterfinals and Lleyton Hewitt in the semis.
Davenport pulled out of her quarterfinal match in Sydney because of bronchitis. Her first match next week is against 32-year-old veteran Conchita Martinez, an Australian Open finalist in 1998 and Wimbledon champion in '94.
Venus Williams, whose best performance at the Australian Open was a loss in the final to younger sister Serena two years ago, opens against Eleni Daniilidou of Greece, who reached a career-high ranking of 14th about 18 months ago.
Serena Williams, who won her fourth consecutive major at the '03 Australian Open, was drawn in the bottom quarter with second-ranked Amelie Mauresmo. Serena will open against Camille Pin in the first round. Pin finished last season ranked 98th.
Mauresmo opens against Samantha Stosur of Australia.
Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova, seeded fourth, drew a qualifier in the first round.
The Open women's draw has been badly hit by injury. Last year's winner, Justine Henin-Hardenne pulled out last week with a knee injury. Kim Clijsters, who lost to Henin-Hardenne in the final, also is out with a persistent wrist injury. Jennifer Capriati, a two-time winner, said Wednesday she had withdrawn because of a recurring right shoulder injury.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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