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Simona Halep to face Kanepi in first round of Australian Open

Simona Halep

Melbourne, Jan 11 (UITV/IANS)- World No. 1 Romania's Simona Halep will face Estonia's Kaia Kanepi in the first round of the Australian Open, according to the draw on Thursday.

Halep lost last year's final to Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki, who will play against Belgium's Alison Van Uytvanck in her opening match, reports Efe news.

If Wozniacki makes it past the first two rounds, she could meet Russia's Maria Sharapova (30) in the third.

Seven time Australian Open champion Serena Williams of the United States will return to the tournament after missing it last year.

The 16th ranked player will play Germany's Tatjana Maria in the first round and could meet Spain's Carla Suarez (23) in her third match.

In the later rounds, Simona Halep could face Spain's Garbine Muguruza, Belgium's Elise Mertens and Ukraine's Elina Svitolina or Suarez and Williams.

Germany's Angelique Kerber, second favourite, will face Slovenia's Polona Hercog in her opening match.

Local Australian Open hope Ashleigh Barty will face Thailand's Luksika Kumkhum in her opening match and could go on to meet Wozniacki in the round-of-16.

Puerto Rico's Monica Puig, who made it to the second round of last year's edition, will play her first match against Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.