By Nick Butler

Defending champion Shingo Kunieda will seek a repeat of his 2014 Australian Open victory ©Getty ImagesJapanese duo Shingo Kunieda and Yui Kamiji lead the seedings for next month's Australian Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships in Mebourne, with quad singles player Dylan Alcott set to head the home charge. 

The season-opening Grand Slam, due to take place in Melbourne Park from January 28 to 31, will feature the top seven ranked male players in the world as of the entry cut-off date, as well as one wildcard, while the women's event will be contested by the world's top eight, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) have announced. 

After another brilliant year on the ITF Wheelchair circuit, defending champion Kunieda will begin as huge favourite for the men's title after winning all but one of his 52 matches in 2014.

As well as singles titles at the Australian, French and US Opens, the Japanese star also won last month's NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters at Lee Valley. 

Stephane Houdet of France, Gordon Reid of Great Britain and Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina will be leading challengers, with Australians Ben Weekes and Adam Kellerman set to playoff for the single wildcard slot. 

Yui Kamiji will be top seed in the wheelchair singles event ©Getty ImagesYui Kamiji will be top seed in the wheelchair singles event ©Getty Images

Compatriot Kamiji, earlier this month named the female ITF World Champion in 2014, capped a breakthrough season with victory at both the French and US Opens and will now look to avenge Germany's Sabine Ellerbrock, who beat her in the Australian Open Final this year.

Ellerbrock is the fourth seed in her title defence, with Dutch pairing Aniek van Koot and Jiske Griffioen ranked second and third, while another challenge will come from Great Britain fifth-seeded contender, Jordanne Whiley.

But it will be the quad singles that draws most attention from the home crowd as Australian Dylan Alcott takes on dominant United States superstar David Wagner.

Wagner, the defending champion and world number one who secured a record seventh success at the Wheelchair Tennis Masters last month, will be the favourite, but after a strong-season, Alcott will fancy his chances.

In a four-man competition, the duo will be joined by Britain's Andy Lapthorne and South Africa's Lucas Sithole.

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