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Australian Open men's seed report

SI.com's Jon Wertheim breaks down the men's seeds at the Australian Open. Read on for the top first-round matchups, dark horses and predictions. Click here for the women's seed report.

Top 16 seeds

1. Novak Djokovic: He's won back-to-back titles in Melbourne and three overall. He comes in well-rested. He can withstand difficult conditions. After a potential first-round test against veteran Paul-Henri Mathieu, his draw is soft. He's the player to beat until proven otherwise.

2. Roger Federer: For the rest of his career, Federer will be on the short list of contenders at every major. But only at Wimbledon will he be considered THE favorite. Though Federer has won this event four times, Melbourne has also been the site of several heartbreaks. As always, he's a good bet to reach the semis. But at this stage in the game, an awful lot has to go right for him to win a fifth title. A second-round match against Nikolay Davydenko will give him a test, but won't end his campaign.

[Courtney Nguyen: Tough draw for Federer]

3. Andy Murray: Murray is the second pick behind Djokovic after winning the most recent Grand Slam tournament and the last one played on hard courts, the 2012 U.S. Open. He did a nice job plying himself into form in his tune-up event in Brisbane and, unburdened by the never-won-a-major millstone, he can swing away. If he won, it would surprise no one.

4. David Ferrer: He benefits from the absence of countryman Rafael Nadal to earn a top-four seed. He's an admirable competitor but one whose fitness and persistence cannot overcome his lack of artillery.

5. Tomas Berdych: He beat Federer at the last hard-court major, in the U.S. Open quarterfinals. And when we last saw him on a big stage, he was celebrating a Davis Cup victory. So he has that going for him. But he still hasn't shown the ability to put his abundant gifts together for seven matches.

6. Juan Martin del Potro: If a non-Big Three player is going to win, Delpo is the consensus pick. We're still not sold, at least not in Melbourne. A lot of game, but is he built for seven best-of-five matches, especially in potentially extreme conditions?

7. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: An entertaining player who is fun to have around but has never equaled his run to the final five years ago. It'll be interesting to see how he fares with his new coach, Roger Rasheed.

[Photos: Tsonga, others prepare for Australian Open]

8. Janko Tipsarevic: First, let's take a second to note that having two Serbs among the top-eight seeds is an achievement. Tipsarevic deserves credit for maxing out his talent. But said talent is not enough for him to win a major. He faces a dangerous first-round match against Lleyton Hewitt.

9. Richard Gasquet: Speaking of talent, Gasquet has tons of it. Always has. Unfortunately the ... something -- courage? Fire? Confidence? Ferocity? -- has never kept pace. Look forward, though, to his potential third-round match against Tommy Haas, a battle of one-handed backhands.

10. Nicolas Almagro: An expressive and flamboyant player. But his record against the top five is unsightly.

11. Juan Monaco: A losing career record (6-8) at the Aussie -- at three of the four majors, in fact -- does not augur great success.

12. Marin Cilic: The Euro-Isner. Always a dangerous opponent, surprisingly strong from the backcourt for a man closer to 7 feet than to 6 feet. Seldom a guy who lasts beyond the middle weekend.

13. Milos Raonic: Australia is where it all began in 2011, when he made the fourth round as a 20-year-old qualifier. Is he ready to take that next step? His early draw certainly cooperated, but then Federer lurks in R4.

14. Gilles Simon: Simple Simon, playing minimalist tennis that keeps him the top 15 but prevents him from entering the next tier.

15. Stan Wawrinka: Maybe a fourth-rounder. Nothing more.

16. Kei Nishikori: He made the quarterfinals last year.

Seeds 17-32

17. Philipp Kohlschreiber: Hard-hitting German tends to play well in Slams.

19. Tommy Haas: Tennis owed him a few years. And, a few weeks from turning 35, he's getting them.

20. Sam Querrey: Quietly on the verge of getting back into the top 20 in the world rankings.

24. Jerzy Janowicz: A hot pick coming in. And not just because everyone is loading up on Springsteen/Snooki/Chris Christie puns.

27. Martin Klizan: The best player you've never heard of? He's likely to play Australian Bernard Tomic in a second-round night match.

28. Marcos Baghdatis: The former finalist is always buoyed by Cypriot patriots Down Under.

Dark Horse Stable

Nikolay Davydenko: A Doha finalist last week, highlight his second-rounder against Federer, whom he scared in the Australian Open quarterfinals in 2010.

Grigor Dimitrov: May get some attention for his tennis to go with inevitable attention he'll get for his alleged female companionship.

David Goffin: Not a lot of fireworks or dramatics, but steadily, unflappably moving up. Gets Fernando Verdasco off the bat.

Benoit Paire: If only because he is a pleasure to watch. Draws Federer right away.

Gael Monfils: He's back -- sliding, swinging and sweating.

Bernard Tomic: Will he meet the moment?

First-Round Matches To Watch

Janko Tipsarevic vs. Lleyton Hewitt: Automatic night match. Drama quotient: high.

Gael Monfils vs Alexandr Dolgopolov: Rough first-rounder for both.

Roger Federer vs. Benoit Paire: Federer will win, but, zut alors, is Paire fun to watch.

Julien Benneteau vs Grigor Dimitrov: Lot of talent for two players ranked outside the top 32.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Michael Llodra: Your Olympic silver medal doubles team faces off.

Upset Special: David Goffin over Fernando Verdasco

Most Likely Brad Gilbert Sports Metaphor

"He's beating him worse than 'Bama beat Notre Dame."

Doubles Winner

Bob and Mike Bryan

Singles Picks

Semifinals: Novak Djokovic vs. David Ferrer; Andy Murray vs. Roger Federer

Finals: Djokovic vs. Murray

Winner: Djokovic

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