A first-time Australian Open final featuring Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer will continue to elude fans after the grand slam titans were thrust into the same side of the draw on Friday.
Djokovic and Federer have contested the final at the past two majors, with the Serb downing the Swiss in four sets at both Wimbledon and the US Open to lock up their career series at 22 wins apiece.
But despite their decade-long rivalry, they have never squared off in an Australian Open decider, Djokovic downing Federer in the 2008 and 2011 semi-finals.
The pair are projected to again clash in the semi-finals this year, but Djokovic’s immediate focus will be on young Korean sensation Hyeon Chung in what shapes as a testing start to his quest for a record-equalling sixth crown.
The 19-year-old Chung was voted the ATP’s most improved player last season after surging from outside the world’s top 170 to 51st.
Djokovic, though, will be a raging favourite to continue on his merry way after landing 12 titles in the past 12 months and opening 2016 with a straight-sets rout of Rafael Nadal in the Doha final.
The world No.7 is projected to meet Japanese seventh seed Kei Nishikori in the quarter-finals.
Federer, with four Australian Open titles among his 17 majors, opens against Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili and could face dangerous Ukraine Alexandr Dolgopolov in the second round and 27th seed Grigor Dimitrov in the third.
Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych is the Swiss champion’s projected last-eight foe, while young Australian ace Nick Kyrgios also looms in their quarter.
Second seed Andy Murray, a three-time runner-up to Djokovic and once to Federer, plays rising German Alexander Zverev in his opener and could run into Australian No.1 Bernard Tomic, the 16th seed, in the fourth round.
Swiss fourth seed Stan Wawrinka and Spanish fifth seed Rafael Nadal, who clashed in the 2014 title match, are scheduled to meet in the quarter-finals.
First, though, Nadal must see off countryman Fernando Verdasco in an intriguing sequel of their epic five-set semi-final in 2009.
Wawrinka launches his title bid against Russian Dmitry Tursunov.
WHO THE TOP EIGHT SEEDS FACE IN ROUND ONE OF THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN
1-Novak Djokovic (SRB) v Hyeon Chung (KOR)
2-Andy Murray (GBR) v Alexander Zverev (GER)
3-Roger Federer (SUI) v Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO)
4-Stan Wawrinka (SUI) v Dmitry Tursunov (RUS)
5-Rafael Nadal (ESP) v Fernando Verdasco (ESP)
6-Tomas Berdych (CZE) v Yuki Bhambri (IND)
7-Kei Nishikori (JAP) v Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER)
8-David Ferrer (ESP) v qualifier