Henman is rewarded with seeding above Hewitt

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The Independent Online

Tim Henman was yesterday seeded 11 for the Australian Open, the first grand slam of the season, which gets underway in Melbourne on Monday.

Henman missed the tournament last year through injury but has been in impressive form of late, with victory at the Paris Masters in November being followed by a semi-final appearance at the Qatar Open in Doha last week.

In the official list of men's and women's seedings which was released yesterday, each was topped by the respective world No 1s, Andy Roddick and Justine Henin-Hardenne.

Henman is one place behind Mark Philippoussis, last year's beaten finalist at Wimbledon, but four higher than the other leading Australian contender, the former world No 1 Lleyton Hewitt. Neither Australian has yet made it past the fourth round at their home grand slam.

Roddick was a semi-finalist at Melbourne Park last year and went on to enjoy a sensational season, winning the United States Open and becoming the youngest player in the history of the ATP rankings to finish the year as the world No 1.

Behind him is the Wimbledon champion, Roger Federer, seeded second, followed by the French Open champion, Juan Carlos Ferrero.

The defending Australian Open champion, Andre Agassi, is seeded fourth and chasing a fifth title at Melbourne after his victories in 1995, 2000, 2001 and 2003. At 33 years and eight months, Agassi is the oldest direct entry in the men's draw.

The women's competition has been blighted by a host of withdrawals with the defending champion, Serena Williams, and the former title-holder Jennifer Capriati (victorious in 2001 and 2002) both out injured.

Mary Pierce, the winner in 1995, and Jelena Dokic have also pulled out, while Kim Clijsters, of Belgium, the world No 2, has been seeded second despite remaining a major doubt for the tournament with an ankle injury.

Henin-Hardenne is the top seed after an outstanding year in 2003, in which she reached the semi-final or better in 18 of the 19 tournaments she entered, winning both the French Open and US Open.

Venus Williams replaces her sister Serena as the third seed despite not having played a competitive tournament since losing the Wimbledon final in July.

The WTA made a special request for the organisers to bump her up from a world ranking of just 11 to three, one above Amélie Mauresmo and two higher than the 2000 Australian Open champion, Lindsay Davenport.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN SEEDINGS

MEN: 1 A Roddick (US); 2 R Federer (Swit); 3 J C Ferrero (Sp); 4 A Agassi (US); 5 G Coria (Arg); 6 R Schüttler (Ger); 7 C Moya (Sp); 8 D Nalbandian (Arg); 9 S Grosjean (Fr); 10 M Philippoussis (Aus); 11 T Henman (GB); 12 N Massu (Chile); 13 P Srichaphan (Thai); 14 J Novak (Cz Rep); 15 L Hewitt (Aus); 16 S Schalken (Neth); 17 M Verkerk (Neth); 18 Y El Aynaoui (Mor); 19 G Kuerten (Bra); 20 T Robredo (Spa); 21 M Fish (US); 22 A Calleri (Arg); 23 F Mantilla (Sp); 24 M Mirnyi (Bela); 25 J Bjorkman (Swe); 26 A Costa (Sp); 27 T Dent (US); 28 F Lopez (Sp); 29 V Spadea (US); 30 A Clement (Fr); 31 W Ferreira (SA); 32 R Ginepri (US).

WOMEN: 1 J Henin-Hardenne (Bel); 2 K Clijsters (Bel); 3 V Williams (US); 4 A Mauresmo (Fr); 5 L Davenport (US); 6 A Myskina (Rus); 7 E Dementieva (Rus); 8 A Sugiyama (Japan); 9 C Rubin (US); 10 N Petrova (Rus); 11 V Zvonareva (Rus); 12 P Suarez (Arg); 13 C Martinez (Sp); 14 A Smashnova-Pistolesi (Isr); 15 D Hantuchova (Slovak); 16 M Serna (Sp); 17 M Shaughnessy (US); 18 F Schiavone (It); 19 E Daniilidou (Gr); 20 S Farina Elia (It); 21 E Bovina (Rus); 22 P Schnyder (Swit); 23 L Krasnoroutskaya (Rus); 24 M Maleena (Bul); 25 L Raymond (US); 26 T Pisnik (Sloven); 27 A Coetzer (SA); 28 M Sharapova (Rus); 29 N Dechy (Fr); 30 S Kuznetsova (Rus); 31 T Tanasugarn (Thai); 32 F Zuluaga (Col).

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