Melbourne: Australian Lleyton Hewitt tops the seedings at his home Grand Slam for the second successive year, tournament officials announced Wednesday.
The world No. 1 becomes the first home-grown male player to top the seedings in back-to-back years here since tennis turned professional in 1968.
Hewitt finished last year ranked No. 1 in the world and captured his second successive Tennis Masters Cup title in Shanghai in November to add to his Wimbledon title won in July.
Three-time Open champion Andre Agassi withdrew on the eve of the tournament with a wrist injury last year. This time, as second seed, he aims to become the first non- Australian to win a fourth title in Melbourne.
Seeded third is last year’s finalist Marat Safin with another Russian, 1999 champion and 2001 runner-up Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the 22nd spot.
Last year’s surprise champion Thomas Johansson of Sweden will not be back to defend his title after a knee injury forced him to withdraw from this year’s event.
Spain is again well represented through Juan Carlos Ferrero in fourth spot, 1997 Australian Open runner-up and Moya in fifth, reigning French Open champion Albert Costa in eighth.
Andy Roddick and James Blake, seeded ninth and 23rd represent a new generation of Americans.In the women’s draw Blake’s American Hopman Cup team mate Serena Williams tops the seedings for the first time in Melbourne.
The winner of the last three Grand Slam titles of 2002 is hoping to capture her first Australian Open crown. Serena’s elder sister Venus is seeded second with defending champion Jennifer Capriati at third.
Belgian pair Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne are seeded fourth and fifth, respectively.
MEN: 1. Lleyton Hewitt (Australia) 2. Andre Agassi (US) 3. Marat Safin (Russia) 4. Juan Carlos Ferrero (Spain) 5. Carlos Moya (Spain) 6. Roger Federer (Switzerland) 7. Jiri Novak (Czech Republic) 8. Albert Costa (Spain) 9. Andy Roddick (US) 10. David Nalbandian (Argentina) 11. Paradorn Srichaphan (Thailand) 12. Sebastien Grosjean (France) 13. Fernando Gonzalez (Chile) 14. Guillermo Canas (Argentina) 15. Alex Corretja (Spain) 16. Sjeng Schalken (Netherlands) 17. Gaston Gaudio (Argentina) 18. Younes El Aynaoui (Morocco) 19. Juan Ignacio Chela (Argentina) 20. Xavier Malisse (Belgium) 21. Andrei Pavel (Romania) 22. Yevgeny Kafelnikov (Russia) 23. James Blake (US) 24. Nicolas Lapentti (Ecuador) 25. Mikhail Youzhny (Russia) 26. Tommy Robredo (Spain) 27. Jan-Michael Gambill (US) 28. Fabrice Santoro (France) 29. Nicolas Escude (France) 30. Gustavo Kuerten (Brazil) 31. Rainer Schuettler (Germany) 32. Stefan Koubek (Austria).
WOMEN: 1. Serena Williams (US) 2. Venus Williams (US) 3. Jennifer Capriati (US) 4. Kim Clijsters (Belgium) 5. Justine Henin-Hardenne (Belgium) 6. Monica Seles (US) 7. Daniela Hantuchova (Slovakia) 8. Anastasia Myskina (Russia) 9. Lindsay Davenport (US) 10. Chanda Rubin (US) 11. Magdalena Maleeva (Bulgaria) 12. Patty Schnyder (Switzerland) 13. Silvia Farina Elia (Italy) 14. Anna Smashnova-Pistolesi (Israel) 15. Alexandra Stevenson (US) 16. Nathalie Dechy (France) 17. Elena Dementieva (Russia) 18. Eleni Daniilidou (Greece) 19. Amanda Coetzer (South Africa) 20. Elena Bovina (Russia) 21. Ai Sugiyama (Japan) 22. Anne Kremer (Luxembourg) 23. Paola Suarez (Argentina) 24. Tatiana Panova (Russia) 25. Meghann Shaughnessy (US) 26. Tamarine Tanasugarn (Thailand) 27. Lisa Raymond (US) 28. Clarisa Fernandez (Argentina) 29. Iva Majoli (Croatia) 30. Janette Husarova (Slovakia) 31. Conchita Martinez (Spain) 32. Katarina Srebontik (Slovenia).