Novak Djokovic has been dealt a favourable draw at Melbourne Park in 2014 as the defending champion bids to become the first man in the Open Era with five Australian Open crowns to his name.
The second-seeded Serb was on hand for the Australian Open 2014 draw ceremony on Friday morning, where his name was placed alongside Slovakian Lukas Lacko in the first round. The 26-year-old has projected clashes from the Round of 16 onwards with 15th seed Fabio Fognini, eighth seed Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarterfinals, third seed David Ferrer in the semifinals and top seed Rafael Nadal in the final.
World No.1 Nadal faces a tougher road, with the Spaniard drawing dangerous Australian Bernard Tomic in the first round, a player who thrives on home-crowd support under the full public glare on Rod Laver Arena.
Should Nadal negotiate his way past Tomic, another Australian, talented teenager Thanasi Kokkinakis, or Dutchman Igor Sijsling, would lie in wait, with 25th-seeded Frenchman Gael Monfils a likely third round opponent. Japan’s 16th seed Kei Nishikori could be Nadal’s fourth-round opponent, and the Spaniard is on track to meet fifth-seeded Argentine Juan Martin del Potro in the quarterfinals and Scottish fourth seed Andy Murray in the semifinals should he progress that far.
Speaking before the draw, where he carried in the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup, Djokovic said he had high hopes his fingerprints would still be on the champion’s trophy in two weeks’ time after winning his past 21 matches at Melbourne Park.
“The Australian Open is my most successful grand slam, my favourite grand slam,” he said.
Another Australian Open success would cap a memorable four months for the Serbian both on and off the court, after announcing his engagement to Jelena Ristic.
“Since I got engaged I haven’t lost a match, so I guess the wedding should come soon,” he joked.
In the other projected quarterfinals, Murray, a three-time Australian Open runner-up, would take on four-time champion Roger Federer, the Swiss bidding to make his 11th consecutive semifinal or better at Melbourne Park, while Ferrer, at a career-high of No.3, would meet Czech Tomas Berdych. Murray meets Japan’s Go Soeda first, with American 13th seed John Isner on track for a fourth-round date, while Federer opens his campaign against Australian wildcard James Duckworth, with 10th-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga his expected fourth-round opponent.
Former finalist Lleyton Hewitt, playing a record 18th straight Australian Open at home, could meet Nadal in the fourth round, but would first have to upset Italian 24th seed Andreas Seppi in his first match before an anticipated third-round meeting with Nishikori.
Canadian 11th seed Milos Raonic could meet Bulgarian talent Grigor Dimitrov in the third round before a projected fourth-round battle with del Potro, who opens against a qualifier.
Of the other Australians in the opening round of the main draw, Jordan Thompson will play Polish 20th seed Jerzy Janowicz, Matt Ebden meets Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, Sam Groth takes on Canadian 28th seed Vasek Pospisil, Marinko Matosevic faces Nishikori, and Nick Kyrgios squares off against German Benjamin Becker.
Five first-round matches to watch
 Rafael Nadal (ESP) v Bernard Tomic (AUS)
Hands-down the marquee first-round match. The gap has closed since the then-teenage Australian wildcard played Nadal in a third-round match on Rod Laver Arena three years ago
Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) v  Andreas Seppi (ITA)
Hewitt comes off a Federer-slaying title run in Brisbane, and will be riding high on confidence before a vocal home crowd when he faces the Italian.
 Novak Djokovic (SRB) v Lukas Lacko (SVK)
The Serbian will be keen to make sure this one ends in straight sets. Based on recent years, he’ll need plenty in reserve for the later rounds of his title defence.
 Gael Monfils (FRA) v Ryan Harrison (USA)
Both flashy shot-makers and emotional players, Monfils arrives having pushed Nadal to three sets in a final in Doha.
 Andy Murray (GBR) v Go Soeda (JPN)
Not a difficult first round for the Scot, more an eye on whether he has shaken the rust from a surprise loss in his comeback tournament in Doha.