In the women's draw of the 2013 Australian Open, Serena Williams will start her bid for a sixth Melbourne title against the unseeded Edna Gallovits-Hall of Romania, with a potential quarterfinal meeting with former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova. The 31-year-old Serena, the favorite to win her 16th Grand Slam singles title and third in a row after her Wimbledon and U.S. Open triumphs last year, would then be in line for a showdown with defending champion Victoria Azarenka.
Azarenka withdrew from her scheduled semifinal meeting with Serena at the Brisbane International last week, blaming an infected toe from a bad pedicure, which critics suggested was tactical. Serena won the title.
"(The toe) is much better," said Azarenka. "I've been practicing for the last couple of days and it feels good, so I'm really happy that it's all gone and behind me."
The top-seeded Azarenka plays another Romanian, Monica Niculescu, in her first round with former world number one Caroline Wozniacki as a potential quarterfinal opponent. Wozniacki opens her bid for the Aussie Open title against the tough German Sabine Lisicki.
Second-seeded Russian Maria Sharapova faces a perilous first week, with a possible third round encounter against Venus Williams following her opening match against Olga Puchkova.
Fifth-ranked Li Na of China opens action against the unseeded Sesil Karatantcheva of Khazikstan, while the fourth-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, fresh off her dominant 6-0, 6-0 finals victory at the Apia International Sydney, will face Austrian Bojana Bobusic in the first round of play.