AUSTRALIA OPEN: Federer drawn against Bedene, Nadal meets Burgos

Novak Djokovic Stan Wawrinka train on the Rod Laver Arena

Novak Djokovic Stan Wawrinka train on the Rod Laver Arena 7 Jan 2018  View 3368 by Gatto Luigi

The reigning Wimbledon champion Garbiñe Muguruza, seeded third, rounds out the top half of the draw. "It was hot as hell in there", he started.

"Roger with the year he had last year and Nadal, I don't think I'll be the favourite. The people love the sport, love the tennis so I always enjoy to share that with them".

"The Australian Open is the big one, it's the one I wanted to be ready for".

Spains Rafael Nadal serves during a practice match against Austrias Dominic Thiem on Margaret Court Arena ahead of the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia Friday, Jan. 12, 2018.

Djokovic had a contrasting 2017, starting at No. 2 but losing in a second-round upset at the Australian Open and not playing again after Wimbledon.

"Over time, tennis has become more physically demanding - something the men experience over five sets, the women over three. I lived through that when I was working with Pete Sampras, so I am very cautious about any major proclamations about greats and their decline".

Williams remains, at 23 Grand Slam singles titles, one short of Court's record. In the same period, he beat Federer 11 times out of 17 (including one walkover) and Murray 14 times out of 17. Would the long-awaited Federer vs. Nadal revival at last year's Australian Open final been as memorable in three sets? However, the six-time AO winner also seemed rusty in his second competitive match.

This year's Australian Open was shaping up to be one of the most underwhelming editions, with numerous top-ranked players being forced to withdraw from the tournament because of injury.

"So he's (number) one, I'm (number) two so that means we have six matches to play (to meet in the final)".

Former winner Stan Wawrinka has said he is hungry to return to action at next week's Australian Open after six months on the sidelines, AFP reports. New rules reverting Grand Slams to 16 seeds from the current 32 are due to come into force in 2019. Some say that a player aiming to clinch a Major must be mentally and physically prepared to play seven matches of five sets each.

Simply by turning up, they were eligible for prize money and avoided a fine.

In the women's field, there is a slew of young stars eager to snatch the baton. An extension of the trend is not out of the question with Maria Sharapova unseeded in Melbourne.

Federer, who is present at Thursday's draw, will open his title defence against Slovenian world No 51 Aljaz Bedene.

Ostapenko, Ashleigh Barty, Daria Kasatkina, Donna Vekic, CiCi Bellis, Katerina Siniakova, Aryna Sabalenka, Naomi Osaka, Belinda Bencic - all are aged 21 or under and could easily make a deep run into week two. It is also perhaps the only place to offer Djokovic unconditional love.

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