World No.1 Simona Halep will face a rematch against the last woman to defeat her at a Grand Slam in 2018 in the first round of the first major of 2019.
The World No.1 was drawn to face Kaia Kanepi, who bounced the Romanian from the US Open last summer in a historic first-round upset, in the first round of next week’s Australian Open, the full main draw for the first Grand Slam of the 2019 season was released on Thursday, wtatennis.com informs.
Halep headlines the top of the draw in a loaded first quarter, which could see her face not one, but both Williams sisters before the quarterfinals.
Unseeded Venus Williams is the first-round foe for No.25 seed Mihaela Buzarnescu, the winner of which could face Halep in the third round, while No.16 seed and 23-time major champion Serena Williams is a potential round of 16 opponent for the top seed.
The No.16 seed faces Tatjana Maria in her first match of the fortnight, and could seed a match against Eugenie Bouchard in the second round.
From there, the seven-time Australian Open champion could see No.23 seed Carla Suárez Navarro, Aussie favorite Samantha Stosur or teenage sensastion Dayana Yastremska before Halep or her sister, among others.
Halep and both Williams sisters are joined in the top half by No.4 seed Naomi Osaka as a potential semifinal match, while No. 2 seed Angelique Kerber and No.3 seed and defending champion Caroline Wozniacki could potentially face off in the semifinals in the bottom half of the draw.
US Open champion Osaka opens against Poland’s Magda Linette, and sees last year’s upset artist and this year’s No.28 seed Hsieh Su-wei, 2018 semifinalist and No.12 seed Elise Mertens and No.6 seed Elina Svitolina in her quarter.
Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka was also among the most notable unseeded players to be placed in the top half of the draw as well, as she will face Laura Siegemund first up as a potenial third-round foe for Osaka.
Kerber will open against Slovenia’s Polona Hercog, while No.3 seed Wozniacki will face Alison van Uytvanck first up to begin her title defense.