Nadal's low seeding gives Djokovic clear run to Wimbledon final

Story highlights

  • World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in opposite half of draw from rest of men's "Big Four"
  • Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer could meet as early as quarterfinals at Wimbledon
  • The winner of that match could then face last year's runner-up Andy Murray
  • Women's champion Serena Williams in opposite half of draw to Maria Sharapova

Novak Djokovic's hopes of winning a second Wimbledon title were boosted Friday when the world No. 1 was drawn in the opposite half of the field from his three main tennis rivals.

The Serbian, who triumphed at the grass-court grand slam in 2011, cannot face defending champion Roger Federer, second-ranked Andy Murray or two-time winner Rafael Nadal before the July 7 men's final.

Nadal has been seeded a lowly fifth despite his successful comeback from long-term knee injury, which culminated in a record eighth French Open title this month.

He lost in the second round at London's SW19 a year ago, which turned out to be his last match until February.

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The 27-year-old faces the prospect of renewing his rivalry with Federer in the quarterfinals, and the winner of that match will possibly face Murray.

Murray, last year's runner-up, is seeded to play France's world No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the last eight.

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    Murray will begin his bid to become Britain's first male champion since Fred Perry in 1936 when he takes on Benjamin Becker.

    He defeated the 32-year-old German -- as well as Tsonga -- on the way to winning the title at Queen's Club on Sunday, having missed the French Open due to injury.

    Federer, seeded third, will start against Romania's Victor Hanescu in Monday's opening matches as he seeks to win his 18th grand slam title and a record eighth Wimbledon crown.

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    Nadal, on a 22-match winning streak, will play 113th-ranked Belgian Steve Darcis in the first round while Djokovic takes on Germany's Florian Mayer.

    Djokovic could play world No. 6 Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals ahead of a possible match against Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer -- who could face eighth-ranked Argentine Juan Martin del Potro in the last eight.

    Ferrer reached his first grand slam final at Roland Garros this month, but had no answer to an in-form Nadal -- who had beaten Djokovic in an epic semi encounter.

    In the Wimbledon women's draw, defending champion and top seed Serena Williams cannot face Maria Sharapova or Victoria Azarenka until the final.

    The American, who beat Sharapova in the French Open final, could face a rematch of last year's title match with fourth-ranked Pole Agnieszka Radwanska in the semis.

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    The 31-year-old will first take on Luxembourg's 77th-ranked Mandy Minella, who lost in the first round last year.

    Radwanska is drawn to meet China's former French Open champion Li Na in the last eight.

    Sharapova, seeded third after dropping below Azarenka in the rankings, having failed to defend her title at Roland Garros, will start against 20-year-old Kristina Mladenovic of France.

    The Russian, who won the tournament as a 17-year-old in 2004, is seeded to face Italian No. 5 Sara Errani in the quarterfinals before a possible clash with Azarenka -- who she beat in the Paris semis.

    Australian Open champion Azarenka, who starts against 112th-ranked Maria Joao Koehler of Portugal, is drawn to play 2011 Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova in the last eight.

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