Tennis: Stosur confronts difficult Brisbane International draw

Top seed Samantha Stosur begins her Australian Open build-up with a first-round match against Belarussian Anastasiya Yakimova. Photo / Getty Images
Top seed Samantha Stosur begins her Australian Open build-up with a first-round match against Belarussian Anastasiya Yakimova. Photo / Getty Images

US Open champion Samantha Stosur faces a massive challenge to finally start a new year with a bang after copping a treacherous draw at the Brisbane International.

Former world No.1s Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters and Ana Ivanovic are all in the Queenslander's half of the draw for her home tournament which begins on Sunday.

Top seed Stosur, who has high hopes of enjoying a successful Australian summer for the first time, begins her Australian Open build-up with a relatively comfortable first-round match against Belarussian Anastasiya Yakimova on Monday.

But victory would likely pit her against Czech world No.25 Lucie Safarova, who beat her in the corresponding match in Brisbane in 2009, in the second round.

A first quarter-final appearance at the tournament would be rewarded with a meeting against Belgian Clijsters or Serb starlet Ivanovic, who are drawn for a blockbuster second-round clash at Pat Rafter Arena.

Williams, who hasn't played a match since falling to Stosur in the US Open final on September 11, flew into Brisbane on Saturday morning before also being drawn on the top half for a likely semi-final match against another grand slam champion.

In the men's draw, Australia's top-ranked player Bernard Tomic has been seeded for the first time at eight and will play French world No.52 Julien Benneteau as the Gold Coaster looks for his maiden win in his fourth appearance in Brisbane.

Fellow Australian Matt Ebden has copped a tough draw against former tournament champion and sixth seed Radek Stepanek while top-seeded Scot Andy Murray faces Kazakstan's Mikhail Kukushkin on Tuesday night.

-v AAP

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