Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal get easy opponents in Australian Open draw

Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal get easy opponents in Australian Open draw

Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal get easy opponents in Australian Open draw

When she finally was able to go home, she was ordered to stay in bed for six weeks. So I think he's the favourite. He appears healthy-much healthier than most of his peers-and eager.

While the roof was closed, both men struggled in humid conditions and called off a third set in favour of a tiebreak.

"It's great to be back".

Still, he faces a battle to repeat those feats without his uncle and lifelong coach Toni, while also fighting familiar injury troubles.

So, who really are the contenders in Melbourne?

Federer, even at 36, is the rightful Australian Open favorite after appearing fresh and sharp in the Hopman Cup team event.

In the bottom half, Wozniacki will not be unduly worried by the first week, although Ostapenko could lurk in the quarters. That is rarely how they are deployed. In the end, success will depend on the player's skill and knack to perform under pressure. It's hard to imagine anyone knocking him off, especially in a field watered down by injuries.

"That's what makes Federer, Federer". But players who do not "perform to the required professional standard" in round one, including by retiring, also risk being fined their prize money, the new rules say.

Williams could face Ukraine's fourth seed Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals.

Only three players stand out to me as genuine dark horses: Bautista Agut, Raonic and Schwartzman.

For all the hype, the 20-year-old German is yet to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal.

There has been little to cheer since the turn of the century and the last time an Australian made it to the men's final at Melbourne Park was Lleyton Hewitt in 2005. I thought physically I would be ready, but my game and wins weren't going to come. Martina Navratilova, who, like Court, is a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, is one of the more prominent figures who have called for a change. The 2018 Australian Open may provide some answers.

He is hugely frustrated after winning two slams in 2017, beating Wawrinka to secure his La Décima at Roland Garros then the US Open against Kevin Anderson, and has endured the recurrence of his own long-term knee problems.

If the ailing Swiss competes, he's going to be the rustiest player in the draw.

Djokovic, reaching for a record seventh Australian Open title but inactive since his early, pained exit from Wimbledon six months ago, has oozed contentment since arriving fresh but untested. Wawrinka needs confidence to win, and the 2014 champion, unfortunately, won't have that in Melbourne. A semifinal stint at last year tournament sets him up well for the remainder of the 2017 season. The Serb plays Aussie wildcard Alex Bolt in the first round.

Former World No 1 Azarenka hasn't played since Wimbledon last year. Sponsors might like the double opportunity to showcase their wares, but tennis has enough television challenges without viewers having to struggle to figure out who is who in a match.

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