Federer, Serena lead Aussie charge

Updated: January 14, 2010, 5:21 PM ET
Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Top-ranked Roger Federer and Serena Williams lead the lists of seeded players for the Australian Open, with Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer the only highly ranked player missing out.

The men's seeds follow the ATP rankings exactly from Nos. 1-32; the women's list follows the WTA rankings from Nos. 1-15, skips Wickmayer, then moves every player from Nos. 17-33 up a spot.

Wickmayer, who won the Auckland WTA tournament last week -- her first event since her one-year ban for doping violations was overturned -- is ranked 16th but is playing in the qualifying tournament.

An International Tennis Federation spokesman said Thursday that because Wickmayer was ineligible to play the Australian Open when entries closed -- a Belgian court had since overturned the ban -- she had to enter the qualifying tournament.

And since the qualifying tournament will not finish until the weekend -- after Friday's draw -- tournament officials could not be sure that Wickmayer would qualify for the 128-player main draw.

Serena Williams has won the Australian title each odd-numbered year since 2003, beating No. 2 Dinara Safina in straight sets in last year's final.

Safina is seeded second this year, followed by French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, U.S. Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, Olympic champion Elena Dementieva and Venus Williams.

Organizers resisted giving former No. 1-ranked Justine Henin a seeding for her first Grand Slam event back from retirement.

The 27-year-old Henin, who won seven singles majors before quitting in May 2008 while holding the No. 1 ranking, made her tour comeback last week at the Brisbane International, where she lost in the final to fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters.

Clijsters, who won the U.S. Open in September in only her third tournament back from more than two years in retirement, was seeded 15th for the Australian Open.

No. 2 Rafael Nadal, who beat Federer in the final here last year, is seeded second, followed by 2008 Australian champion Novak Djokovic, U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro and No. 5 Andy Murray.

Federer won the Australian Open in 2004, 2006 and 2007, losing to the eventual champion in '05, '08 and last year.

After losing to Nadal last year, Federer recovered to win the French Open and Wimbledon, increasing his career tally to 15 Grand Slam singles titles, beating Pete Sampras' record of 14.

He completed a career Grand Slam of winning all four majors by winning the French for the first time. He lost the U.S. Open final to del Potro, ending a streak of five straight titles at New York.


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