Djokovic meets Struff, Barty faces Tsurenko at the Australian Open

<pre><pre>Djokovic meets Struff, Barty faces Tsurenko at the Australian Open

Swiss Roger Federer in action during his group stage game against Serbian Novak Djokovic. Action pictures via Reuters / Tony O & # 39; Brien / File Photo

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Novak Djokovic begins his search for an eighth Australian Open title against Jan-Lennard Struff while Ash Barty takes on Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko in the first Grand Slam of the year since 1978.

Djokovic of Serbia is the defending champion after winning the 20th Grand Slam title last year in the final against Rafa Nadal, who is the first this year to face Bolivian Hugo Dellien.

The American Serena Williams is only one Grand Slam title less than the 24-year-old Australian Margaret Court. With the eighth start number, her offer for an eighth Melbourne Park crown begins with a tie against the Russian Anastasia Potapova.

The third placed Japanese Naomi Osaka won her second Grand Slam crown in Australia last year and starts defending her title against the Czech Marie Bouzkova.

The emerging American talent Coco Gauff plays twice the champion Venus Williams, whom she beat last year on her Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon.

Only one man has won more important individual titles for men than Nadal and the Swiss Roger Federer will open his search for the 21st with a match in the first round against the American Steve Johnson.

French Open champion Barty, the number 1 in women and the number 1 in the world, will try to end Australia's 42-year wait for a home champion as non-seeded Chris O’Neill won the title in Kooyong.

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editor of Shri Navaratnam