Australian Open 2013 draw: Novak Djokovic avoids Andy Murray until final, Victoria Azarenka has Serena Williams in semis

Mark Dadswell

All eyes were on the semifinal matchups for the defending champions for the Australian Open draw. Novak Djokovic was fortunate to avoid Andy Murray and Roger Federer, by Victoria Azarenka didn't have the same luck.

The 2013 Australian Open draw was released on Thursday with play set to begin in the year's first Grand Slam event on Sunday. Novak Djokovic will be looking to repeat as champion on the men's side, while Victoria Azarenka looks to repeat for the women. Both champions return as No. 1 this year.

On the women's side, 49 of the top 50 will be participating. For the men, 95 of the world's top 100 will be involved, including five Grand Slam winners. The tournament will feature a record $30 million purse.

The top-seeded American, John Isner, has withdrawn from the tournament with a knee injury. That leaves No. 20 Sam Querrey as America's best hope to capture a Grand Slam this fortnight. Querrey will face a qualifier in the opening round, with a possible fourth-round matchup with Djokovic looming.

No. 3 Andy Murray will look to build on his first-ever Grand Slam championship at the U.S. Open. He will face a road that may include No. 8 Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarterfinals on the way to a possible semifinal tilt with No. 2 Roger Federer. The two have had some excellent battles over the last season, including showdowns in the finals of Wimbledon and the Gold Medal match at the Olympics.

The potential is there for a U.S. Open final rematch between Djokovic and Murray, but fans in Australia probably wouldn't complain much about a Federer vs. Novak title bout.

Djokovic may face a test in the third round against Radek Stepanek, who is coming off an excellent Davis Cup for the Czech Republic. No. 5 Tomas Berdych looms in the quarterfinals.

If Federer is to reach some of the marquee matches in the later rounds, he will likely have to go through No. 13 Milos Roanic and No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

On the women's side, Serena Williams will be looking for her third-straight Grand Slam victory after taking Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. If Williams can maintain her high level of play, she is on a crash-course with Azarenka in the semifinals. She will have to get through No. 8 Petra Kvitova to reach that point.

That potential semifinal match is bad news for Azarenka, who is 1-11 in her career against Williams. Maria Sharapova may have been far luckier, despite being the No. 2 seed, as she would not have to face Williams until the final. She could see Serena's sister, Venus Williams, in the third round. Venus is the tournament's No. 24 seed.

Sharapova also may face a tough match against No. 5 Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals. The toughest potential match in Azarenka's bracket appears to be No. 7 Sara Errani, who she would also meet in the quarters.

The full draw can be found at the Australian Open's official site. Go here for the Men's, and here for the Women's.

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