| Kuerten: Always a danger
Melbourne: Lleyton Hewitt must wait a few more days to learn his opening opponent in the Australian Open after the top seed drew a qualifier on Friday.
But Andre Agassi can begin to mentally prepare for the start of his tilt at a fourth Australian crown. He was drawn against fellow-American Brian Vahaly.
In the women’s draw, Serena Williams opens her ‘Serena slam’ campaign against France’s Emilie Loit while elder sister and No. 2 seed Venus drew Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia.
The Williams sisters have contested the last three Grand Slam titles — Serena winning the French, Wimbledon and US Open crowns — but neither has reached the final of the opening Grand Slam of the season.
Serena missed last year’s Open with an ankle injury, but her best showing prior to that was a quarter-final finish in 2001. Venus’ record is marginally better — she reached the semi-finals in 2001.
Such was the family’s domination last year, though, only the very brave would back against the name Williams ending up on the women’s singles trophy this year.
Defending champion Jennifer Capriati will have much to say about that, however, as she looks to hold on to the crown she won in 2001 and 2002.
Capriati, seeded third, opens up — in Venus’ half of the draw — against German Marlene Weingartner. Serena’s half of the draw contains Belgium’s Kim Clijsters.
No change in dates
Any imminent shift of the Australian Open from January to March would be “unthinkable”, the tournament’s chief executive Paul McNamee said on Friday.
Despite players lobbying for a change in the calendar and their complaints about searing Australian midsummer heat and insufficient warm-up events for the opening Grand Slam of the season, McNamee insisted there would be no change in the calendar until 2007 at the very earliest.
“Let’s just say we are going to be in January where we are for the next few years — there’s no question about that”, he said. (Reuters)