Tomljanovic cops horror Open draw

Paying the price for narrowly missing a seeding, Ajla Tomljanovic has copped a horror Australian Open draw.

Australia's top women's hope in the absence of retired reigning champion Ash Barty, Tomljanovic will likely need to pull off a succession of victories over major winners and grand slam heavyweights to contend in Melbourne.

Tomljanovic's only saving grace from Thursday's draw is a seemingly soft opener against Argentina's world No.192 Nadia Podoroska.

But then it gets treacherous for the world No.35.

Tomljanovic could face 2020 champion Sofia Kenin or two-time Open winner Victoria Azarenka in round two.

If the 2022 Wimbledon and US Open quarter-finalist makes it to the last 32, in-form 10th seed Madison Keys - a semi-final loser to Barty last year - will likely be waiting in round three.

Tomljanovic could also play sixth seed Maria Sakkari in the last 16 and world No.3 Jessica Pegula in the quarter-finals.

Tomljanovic must be cursing her luck.

The 29-year-old was in line for a precious first-time grand slam seeding at her home major until a knee injury forced her to withdraw from the season-opening United Cup.

As a result, Tomljanovic dropped two places in the rankings on Monday, the day the seedings were announced, after Keys and Pegula led the US to victory in the new mixed teams' event with 13 dominant wins between them from 14 matches.

Also a star of Australia's charge to last year's Billie Jean King Cup final, Tomjlanovic enjoyed her finest season in 2022.

In addition to famously ending Serena Williams' decorated career in New York, Tomljanovic became the first Australian woman since former world No.1 Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1979 to reach the quarter-finals at both Wimbledon and the US Open in a calendar year.

But Thursday's devilish draw leaves Tomljanovic needing to elevate her game to even greater heights if she's to live up to Barty's pre-summer billing of her compatriot as a genuine Open title contender.

The potential Open women's quarter-finals include Polish world No.1 Iga Swiatek against seventh seed Coco Gauff, fresh off the American teenager's title success in Auckland.

Pegula, who hammered Swiatek in the United Cup semi-finals, could play Sakkari in the last eight.

In the bottom half, world No.2 Ons Jabeur is projected to meet fifth-seeded Adelaide International 1 winner Aryna Sabalenka and fourth Caroline Garcia is slated to play Daria Kasatkina in the quarter-finals.

Azarenka against Kenin is undoubtedly the feature first-round match.