Sharapova to face Makarova in Brisbane

Brisbane, January 1

Maria Sharapova will open her Australian campaign with a match against Ekaterina Makarova following Friday’s draw for Brisbane International.

Defending champion and third seed Sharapova will play world No 23 Makarova in a rematch from last year’s Australian Open semi-final. “This was a grand slam semi-final last year in Australia,” five-time grand slam champion Sharapova told reporters.

Sharapova, 28, who beat Ana Ivanovic in last year’s Brisbane final, leads Makarova 6-0 in their past meetings.

World No 2 and top seed Simona Halep has drawn a bye for her opening round but could face two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka in the second round.

Spain’s Garbine Muguruza is the second seed. After a first-round bye she will face either American Varvara Lepchenko or Slovakian Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

The women’s field boasts nine of the world’s top 20 as well as former top seeds Azarenka and Jelena Jankovic.

In the men’s draw, Australian wildcard Ben Mitchell or a qualifier are in line to become Roger Federer’s first opponent in 2016.

The 17-time grand slam champion Federer will receive a first-up bye. Australia’s Bernard Tomic will take on Frenchman Nicolas Mahut in the first round.

The tournament begins on Sunday.