Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams, performing a dance together at a promotional event in Melbourne on Saturday ahead of the Australian Open, both are expected to mount strong challenges to win the year’s first Grand Slam. (Andy Wong/Associated Press)
Players to watch at the Australian Open

The first major of the 2013 tennis season gets underway Sunday in Melbourne. Here are eight players who should contend for the Australian Open men’s and women’s titles:

MEN

Novak Djokovic

Age: 25

Birthplace: Belgrade, Serbia

World ranking: 1

Grand Slam titles/Australian Open titles: 6/3

Best shot: Fitness, quickness and an array of shots make the Serb the favorite to win a third consecutive and fourth overall title.

Roger Federer

Age: 31

Birthplace: Basel, Switzerland

World ranking: 2

Grand Slam titles/Australian Open titles: 17/4

Best shot: The Swiss extended his record haul of majors to 17 by winning his seventh Wimbledon in July, at 30.

Andy Murray

Age: 25

Birthplace: Dunblane, Scotland

World ranking: 3

Grand Slam titles/Australian Open titles: 1/0

Best shot: The prodigiously gifted Scot made huge mental strides under his coach, Ivan Lendl, winning Olympic gold and a first major in 2012.

Juan Martin del Potro

Age: 24

Birthplace: Tandil, Argentina

World ranking: 7

Grand Slam titles/Australian Open titles: 1/0

Best shot: The 6-foot-6 Argentine and 2009 U.S. Open champ has been slow to recover from wrist surgery in 2010, but few doubt his gifts.

WOMEN

Victoria Azarenka

Age: 23

Birthplace: Minsk, Belarus

World ranking: 1

Grand Slam titles/ Australian Open titles: 1/1

Best shot: A fierce competitor, Azarenka can overpower nearly every hard-hitter but Serena, against whom she has a 1-12 record.

Serena Williams

Age: 31

Birthplace: Saginaw, Mich.

World ranking: 3

Grand Slam titles/ Australian Open titles: 15/5

Best shot: Healthy and motivated, the American champion has won 35 of her last 36 matches. Who’d bet against her?

Maria Sharapova

Age: 25

Birthplace: Nyagan, Russia

World ranking: 2

Grand Slam titles/ Australian Open titles: 4/1

Best shot: The Russian completed a career Grand Slam by winning the French last June and has a favorable draw in Melbourne.

Agnieszka Radwanska

Age: 23

Birthplace: Krakow, Poland

World ranking: 4

Grand Slam titles/ Australian Open titles: 0/0

Best shot: The Pole forced Serena to three sets in Wimbledon’s final in July, then opened 2013 with back-to-back titles.

— Liz Clarke