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Defending champ Djokovic faces tricky 1st round at Wimbledon but avoids Federer, Nadal, Murray

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LONDON — Defending champion Novak Djokovic avoided his three biggest traditional rivals in the Wimbledon draw on Friday as the other members of tennis' "Big Four" were all placed on the opposite side.

Serena Williams had no such luck in the women's draw, where she may have to get past a trio of former No. 1s — sister Venus, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova — just to get to the final.

The draw at the All England Club set up a number of intriguing possibilities for the upcoming two weeks, especially with former champions Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal all grouped together in the bottom half of the men's draw. Murray and Nadal could face each other in the quarterfinals, with Federer possible awaiting the winner in the semis.

The bottom half also includes former finalist Tomas Berdych and former semifinalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, leaving Djokovic facing a possible semifinal against Stan Wawrinka, the man who beat him in the French Open final.

Djokovic does face a potentially tricky start of the tournament, though, as he'll open play on Centre Court on Monday against German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber and could face Australian former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt in the second round. Hewitt, the 2002 champion, is playing Wimbledon for the final time and has always enjoyed huge crowd support at the All England Club.

PHOTO: FILE - In this June 28, 2014, file photo, Serena Williams gestures during a women's singles match against Alize Cornet of France at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon, London. A five-time champion and two-time runner-up at Wimbledon, Serena Williams hasn't been past the fourth round either of the last two years at the All England Club. (AP Photo/Sang Tan, File)
FILE - In this June 28, 2014, file photo, Serena Williams gestures during a women's singles match against Alize Cornet of France at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon, London. A five-time champion and two-time runner-up at Wimbledon, Serena Williams hasn't been past the fourth round either of the last two years at the All England Club. (AP Photo/Sang Tan, File)

Another Australian, Bernard Tomic, could then await Djokovic in the third round, while Kei Nishikori of Japan is a potential quarterfinal opponent.

Two-time champion Nadal is seeded only No. 10 this year after a disappointing season that saw him lose at the French Open for only the second time in his career. He could face fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in the fourth round.

Murray was given one of the toughest possible draws as he tries to win the tournament for a second time, with the home favorite potentially facing Tsonga in the fourth round, Nadal in the quarters, Federer in the semis and Djokovic in the final.

Federer will start his quest for a record eighth title against Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia-Herzegovina and could face Berdych in the quarterfinals.

In the women's tournament, top-ranked Williams could come up against sister Venus — also a five-time champion — in the fourth round, Azarenka in the quarterfinals and Sharapova in the semis in a tough upper half of the draw.

Williams, who is halfway toward a calendar-year Grand Slam, opens play against Margarita Gasparyan of Russia. Williams lost in the third round last year and the fourth round in 2013.

Defending champion Petra Kvitova is in the other half, and could face last year's runner-up Eugenie Bouchard of Canada in the quarterfinals.

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PHOTO: Serbia's Novak Djokovic, right, shares a joke with France's Richard Gasquet after he was urged by members of the crowd to change his shirt during their match on day three of The Boodles tennis tournament at Stoke Park, near Stoke Poges, England, Thursday June 25, 2015. (Andrew Matthews/PA via AP)  UNITED KINGDOM OUT  NO SALES  NO ARCHIVE
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