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Fall in rankings has Roger Federer seeded 17th at Australian Open

Switzerland’s Roger Federer looks to play a backhand return during a practice session ahead of the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. (Mark Baker / Associated Press)
Switzerland’s Roger Federer looks to play a backhand return during a practice session ahead of the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. (Mark Baker / Associated Press)
By John Pye Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia – A long injury layoff and a fall in the rankings have created a tougher draw for 17-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer at the Australian Open.

Federer slipped to No. 17 in the rankings this week after Grigor Dimitrov won the Brisbane International and moved up to No. 15.

The Australian Open tends to stick with the rankings when its seeds 32 players in each of the men’s and women’s 128-player singles draws, meaning the 35-year-old Federer gets less protection than usual and could potentially face a top 10 player in the third round.

The seedings were confirmed by Australian Open organizers on Thursday. The draw will be held Friday for the season-opening major, which starts Monday at Melbourne Park.

Federer has won the Australian Open four times, his first in 2004, and also reached the final in 2009, but he hasn’t won the title here since 2010.

He spent six months out of action last year while recovering after surgery on his left knee and finished 2016 at No. 16, ending a year in which his record run of 65 Grand Slam appearances ended when he couldn’t contest the French Open. He also missed the U.S. Open.

He returned to action at the international mixed teams exhibition at the Hopman Cup in Perth last week.

As expected, No. 1-ranked Andy Murray is the top seed ahead of six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic in the men’s draw and Angelique Kerber, the reigning Australian and U.S. Open champion, is the top seed in the women’s draw ahead of six-time campion Serena Williams, who is seeded No. 2.

Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic is No. 3 in the men’s seedings, and U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori, Gael Monfils, Marin Cilic, Dominic Thiem, 14-time major winner Rafael Nadal and Tomas Berdych round out the top 10.

Following Kerber and Williams in the list of top 10 women’s seeds are Agnieszka Radwanska, Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova, Dominika Cibulkoa, Garbine Muguruza, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Johanna Konta and Carla Suarez Navarro.

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