With 2010 U.S. Open champion Rafael Nadal absent because of knee tendinitis and both top seed Roger Federer and Olympic champion Andy Murray in the opposite half of the bracket, defending champ Novak Djokovic appeared to get the better deal in Thursday's tournament draw.
If form follows, Djokovic, seeded No. 2, will get a semifinal match with No. 4 David Ferrer, the veteran who has advanced beyond the Open's fourth round only once in nine years. Djokovic might have to face 2009 Open winner Juan Martin del Potro in the quarters, though del Potro -- playing better this summer after a long rehabilitation for wrist surgery -- is battling problems in his other wrist.
For the first time in five years, it is guaranteed that Federer and Djokovic will not play each other in the semifinals. But Federer theoretically has a tougher road than Djokovic, with a possible fourth-round match against Mardy Fish -- one of the fresher players on tour after skipping the Olympics -- and with Murray, who defeated Federer in the Olympic final; Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who upset Federer in the 2011 Wimbledon quarterfinals, and Tomas Berdych, who knocked Federer out of the 2010 Wimbledon quarters, all in his path to the final.
In the women's draw, three-time Open champion Serena Williams, widely considered the title favorite despite a No. 4 seed, is in the same half of the draw with former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki and current No. 2 Agnieszka Radwanska. Williams' sister, two-time Open champ Venus, is unseeded and in the same half of the draw as Serena.
On the opposite side of the bracket are No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, defending champion Samantha Stosur, former champ Maria Sharapova and 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova. Also in that half is three-time Open winner Kim Clijsters, who has said this will be her last professional tournament.