Rafael Nadal will begin his Australian Open men's singles title defence against Britain's Jack Draper ©Getty Images

Top men's and women's seeds Rafael Nadal of Spain and Iga Świątek will both start their Australian Open tennis campaigns at Melbourne Park with tough draws.

Defending men’s singles champion Nadal starts his quest for a 23rd Grand Slam title and third Australian Open against Britain’s Jack Draper, ranked 40 in the world, and a semi-finalist at last year's Association of Tennis Professionals NextGen Finals.

At the other end of the men's draw, second seed Casper Ruud of Norway, bidding for a first Grand Slam tile takes on Tomas Machac of the Czech Republic.

Third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece takes on Quentin Halys of France, while fourth seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia, a nine-time champion at the event, who returns to the tournament a year after being deported from the country, starts his campaign against Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain.

Last year’s runner-up Daniil Medvedev, playing as a neutral, takes on Marcos Giron of the United States, while home hopeful Nick Kyrgios takes on another neutral in Roman Safiullin.

Elsewhere in the draw a stand-out tie in the men’s first-round pits fifth seed Andrey Rublev of Russia, playing as a neutral, against Austrian wildcard Dominic Thiem, the 2020 US Open champion and runner-up in Australia in the same year.

Another anticipated match-up sees Britain’s Sir Andy Murray, a five-time runner-up at Melbourne Park against 13th seed and Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini.

Iga Świątek of Poland will start as favourite for the women's singles crown after Ashleigh Barty's retirement ©Getty Images
Iga Świątek of Poland will start as favourite for the women's singles crown after Ashleigh Barty's retirement ©Getty Images

There will definitely be a new champion in the women’s singles category after Australian Ashleigh Barty, winner last year, announced her retirement from the sport after her memorable triumph on home soil.

Poland’s Iga Świątek, the world number one and last year’s French Open and US Open champion will start as favourite in Melbourne.

Top seed Świątek begins her campaign against Germany’s Jule Niemeier, a player that she defeated from a set down on her way to triumphing in New York last year.

Second seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, runner-up last year at Wimbledon and the US Open, takes on Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia.

Third seed Jessica Pegula of the United States faces Jaqueline Cristian of Romania, while fourth seed Caroline Garcia of France faces qualifier Katherine Sebov of Canada.

Elsewhere in the draw a stand-out tie in the women’s first-round sees two former Australian Open champions meet, as Victoria Azarenka, playing as a neutral, takes on Sofia Kenin of the United States.

Meanwhile, Australia’s highest-ranked player in the draw at 35, Ajla Tomljanovic, faces Nadia Podoroska of Argentina. 

Main draw play is due to begin on Monday (January 16).