Barty lands big Australian Open boost

Ashleigh Barty is poised for a top-16 seeding at the Australian Open. (AAP)

Home hope Ashleigh Barty is set for a top-16 seeding at the Australian Open after world No.12 Svetlana Kuznetsova's withdrawal with a wrist injury.

Ashleigh Barty is in line for a precious Australian Open top-16 seeding following the withdrawal of world No.12 Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Russia's two-time grand slam champion is out after undergoing wrist surgery, with China's Saisai Zheng the only other top-100 player not contesting the year's first major at Melbourne Park.

Kuznetsova's scratching leaves Barty as the 16th-highest ranked player in the women's 128-strong draw, ensuring the big home hope will avoid top-eight rival until at least the fourth round.

The Newcombe Medallist will be among three Australian seeds when the biggest and richest event on the annual sporting calendar gets underway on January 15.

World No.25 Daria Gavrilova will again be seeded as she strives to reach the second week for the third year in a row.

Nick Kyrgios is currently ranked 21st but could improve his seeding with a strong showing at the Brisbane International starting on December 31.

Every top 100 player in the men's rankings has entered, with six-time champion Novak Djokovic, five-time runner-up Andy Miurray and 2014 winner Stan Wawrinka among a host of big names making their returns from injury.

Rafael Nadal and new women's world No.1 Simona Halep will be the top seeds as 36-year-olds Roger Federer and Serena Williams attempt to defend their crowns.

Queenslander John Millman is expected to use an injury-protected ranking to gain entry to the men's main draw alongside Kyrgios and fellow Australians Jordan Thompson and wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis.

At least one more local will join the quarter following next week's wildcard playoff, while Tennis Australia will also consider handing troubled star Bernard Tomic a discretionary start after a horror 2017 season.

Former US Open champion Samantha Stosur, Australian Pro Tour winner Olivia Rogowksa and the wildcard playoff winner will join Barty and Gavrilova in the women's event.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley is looking forward to welcoming the world's best players to Melbourne.

"We have yet another strong field," Tiley said in revealing the official entry list on Friday.

"Last year's tournament broke all of the records and we look forward to welcoming back new mum Serena as she attempts to equal Margaret Court's 24 grand slam (singles titles).

"We are definitely a family-friendly event and many players including reigning champion Roger Federer travel with their children to Melbourne so we remain optimistic that she will return.

"We have been in regular contact with Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori and Stan Wawrinka, who are all set for the Aussie summer.

"They will all have lower rankings meaning there's a real chance we'll finally see a breakthrough from one of the rising stars like Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem or David Goffin."

Source: AAP

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