The uncertain status of world number one Novak Djokovic did not prevent Australian Open organizers from including him as the top seed for the Grand Slam tournament that begins next Monday at Melbourne Park.
Unsurprisingly, top-ranked female and local talent Ash Barty received the top seed in the women’s singles draw when the chart was released Tuesday. Defending champion Naomi Osaka is ranked 13th.
Djokovic won a court battle to compete in the Australian Open, but still faces the threat of deportation because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19. He is at the level of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal with 20 individual Grand Slam titles each. A tenth victory at the Australian Open on January 30 in the men’s final would give him the all-time men’s record.
Federer will not play in Melbourne as he continues his recovery from right knee surgery.
Daniil Medvedev, who beat Djokovic in the US Open final last year to prevent the Serbian player from capturing a calendar-year Grand Slam, is the second seed, followed by Alexander Zverev at No. 3, Stefanos Tsitsipas at No. 4 and Andrey Rublev at number 5.
Nadal is the sixth seed, followed by Matteo Berrettini.
Felix Auger-Aliassime is at No. 9 and Denis Shapovalov at 14th. The pair combined to win the ATP Cup for Canada last Sunday.
Taylor Fritz leads the American men’s contingent at 20th, followed by John Isner at 22nd and Reilly Opelka at 23rd.
Alex De Minaur is the only Australian among the seeds, ranking 32nd. and last position.
The 25-year-old Barty has two Grand Slam singles titles, 2019 Roland Garros and last year’s Wimbledon, but he really wants to win a Grand Slam on his home soil. No Australian woman has won the title here since Chris O’Neil in 1978.
Barty’s best result at Melbourne Park was in 2020, when she lost in the semi-finals to eventual champion Sofia Kenin. Last year he reached the quarterfinals.
Barty won the Adelaide International title last week, while second seed Aryna Sabalenka got off to a different start, losing in the first round of her two events leading up to the Australian Open.
Garbiñe Muguruza will be seeded No. 3, Barbora Krejcikova No. 4 and Maria Sakkari No. 5.
Kenin is the best-seeded American at No. 11.