Melbourne 2018 champion Caroline Wozniacki will retire after this year’s Australian Open to pursue new challenges, and the Dane has been granted a relatively kind start to the final tournament of her career against world No.92 Kristie Ahn.
Wozniacki, one of the most popular figures in the women’s game, could conceivably play close friend Williams in the last 16 but that would likely require her to overcome both 23rd seed Dayana Yastremska and Konta in the process.
In the bottom half of the draw, second seed Kristina Pliskova has been handed a tough opening match against mercurial Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic. Pliskova is also in the same section of the draw as the hard-hitting American CoCo Vandeweghe, and recent Auckland finalist Jessica Pegula.
Fourth seed Simona Halep also has a tricky opener against in-form American Jennifer Brady who beat both Barty and Maria Sharapova in Brisbane earlier this year.
Meanwhile Sharapova, the 2008 champion, is involved in another of the draw’s most enticing first round matches against 19th seed Donna Vekic.
The top half of the women’s draw will play on Monday, with the schedule to be released on Friday Melbourne time.
Projected quarterfinal match-ups
 Barty v  Kvitova
 Osaka v  S.Williams
 Bencic v  Halep
 Svitolina v  Pliskova