Novak Djokovic back with a bang at Kooyong

Novak Djokovic back with a bang at Kooyong

Four years since Nadal entered the year's first Grand Slam as the top seed, the Spaniard again finds himself with the No.1 next to his name on the draw. "For now, I am in the (Australian Open) tournament and let's hope with God's grace that everything will be fine in the next five days".

"All these things all play into it but at the end of the day I've been in this position thankfully many times before".

Murray recently underwent hip surgery and will be out for another six months but Djokovic returns after his hiatus at the Australian Open.

By Richard MartinNadal begins new era without mentor Toni in Australia as Carlos Moya takes charge in his team.

Bookmakers are also expecting the world number two to successfully defend his title. "I think that affects him mentally as well as physically", she said.

I'm getting in the groove and getting my elbow in the match play and was the first best-of-three match that I've played since Wimbledon previous year.

Her sister Venus, who lost the all-Williams Australian Open final a year ago, has a tough opener against Belinda Bencic - who combined with Federer to win the Hopman Cup for Switzerland last week - and is also in the same quarter as U.S. Open victor Sloane Stephens.

After six, seven matches, you start feeling like a different player, that you can't miss anymore.

Novak Djokovic back with a bang at Kooyong
Novak Djokovic back with a bang at Kooyong

Roger Federer returns to defend his title while Serena Williams will be in Florida with her baby girl. Given that few in the sport would have predicted this resurgence by the legendary veterans, I perhaps risk embarrassment by attempting to preview and predict this year's tournament.

World No.1 Rafael Nadal has tuned up for the Australian Open with an exhibition match win at Melbourne Park. "You always have to beat the top players in order to get to the top". When both departed before the quarter-finals, it cleared the way for Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to reach the final. Anything can happen. It's a Grand Slam.

Djokovic is in the same quarter as the Zverev brothers - fourth-seeded Alexander could meet older brother and No. 32-seeded Mischa in the third round - 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka, and No. 5 Dominic Thiem.

In the women's draw, top seed Simona Halep will face Australian wildcard Destanee Aiava in the opening round and could face two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the third round.

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.

In 2017, we saw two first-time Major-winners - Ostapenko at the French Open and Sloane Stephens at the US Open.

Dimitrov acknowledged Vallverdu for helping him develop a new-found mental toughness, and the duo will hope to build on that victory at the O2 when gracing the hard courts of Melbourne - a tournament where he reached the semis a year ago.


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