Australian Open: History beckons as Serena Williams shoots for Slam history

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The manner in which she claimed her maiden Slam was far from ideal - with Serena's furious tirade against the umpire overshadowing Osaka's breakthrough moment. "Coming back as defending champion, it's something I always dreamed of", she said.

"I'm surprised that I'm still at this level, that I'm still in the top 10".

A win in the upcoming tournament would make Australian Open Williams' most Successful Grand Slam event.

Last year's semi-finalist Kyle Edmund looms as a possible fourth round match-up for the Spaniard, who could then face big-serving Kevin Anderson in the quarter-finals.

The two-time Australian Open defending champion from Switzerland, Roger Federer (3rd seed), is facing Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin.

While Evert thinks Serena is "raring to go" as she looks to equal Margaret Court's all-time Grand Slam title record of 24, she predicts strong challenges from the players who stopped the American reaching that tally past year - Japan's Naomi Osaka, who beat Williams in the U.S. Open final, and Angelique Kerber who trounced her in the Wimbledon title match.

Williams trails only Margaret Court in that category, and she came painfully close to tying her record previous year in at Wimbledon and the US Open, losing in the final of both events to Angelique Kerber and Naomi Osaka, respectively.

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Simona Halep will get an opportunity to gain revenge over Kaia Kanepi when they meet again in the first round of the Australian Open.

Unseeded Estonian Kanepi knocked Halep out of the first round at Flushing Meadows a year ago, making the Romanian the first top seed to lose at that tournament's earliest stage.

The Romanian could face Venus Williams in the third round and Serena Williams is a potential last-16 opponent for the top seed.

Wozniacki faces the prospect of a battle with Maria Sharapova - the 2008 champion - in the third round.

The 37-year-old has won at Melbourne Park seven times, most recently on her last visit in 2017 when she was eight weeks pregnant with daughter Alexis Olympia. "I'm enjoying every minute", said the Dane at Thursday's draw, while paying tribute to Williams. Nadal is looking to become the first man in the Open Era to win each of the 4 Grand Slam titles twice.

Second seed and 2016 champion Angelique Kerber, bidding for a fourth Grand Slam title, will open against Slovenian Polona Hercog, with a possible quarter-final against 2017 U.S. Open victor Sloane Stephens in the second week.

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