Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic Ready For Australian Open

Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic Ready For Australian Open

The Serbian former world number one has been out of action for six months, and while he enjoyed having his first real break since turning professional, he is ready to get back to business.

Federer was seeded No. 2 behind world No. 1 Rafael Nadal has a seemingly simple opener against 51st-ranked Slovenian Aljaz Bedene, but he might be made to sweat after that. I know that if I get myself to desired level of performance - mental and physical - that I can actually have a good chance to go far in the tournament. If I lose a match, at the end of the day it's a tennis match. After six, seven matches, you start feeling like a different player, that you can't miss anymore.

"I do feel young inside, you know".

"What a comeback it was and it was definitely the highlight of the year". Nadal would also avoid both Federer and Djokovic until the final.

This time, Federer breezily walked into the Australian Open draw carrying the trophy just a few days after helping Switzerland win the Hopman Cup mixed team event.

Djokovic has been sidelined with an elbow injury that had been progressively getting worse over the past few years.

They're in the same half of the draw - along with No. 4 Alexander Zverev, No. 5 Dominc Thiem, No. 7 David Goffin and No. 9 Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 Australian Open victor who is also returning from injury. "Moya has come with new ideas and new methods of working that have worked well and we are excited". "I'm not going to say quarter-finals, semi-finals, anything like that", he said. "So that's the good news". Kei Nishikori also withdrew.

Serena Williams, who was pregnant when she beat Venus here past year to claim her 23rd major title, gave birth to her first child - Alexis Olympia - in September.

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Venus Williams said Serena is "here in spirit" supporting her in Australia, where she's hopeful of ending an nearly decade-long Grand Slam title drought. 2017's beaten finalist is up against Belinda Bencic in the opening round.

"I feel like I spend less energy but I'm more efficient". "No one ever wants to let themselves down".

Serena Williams may not be around to defend her title this year but sister Venus will be looking to go one better to claim a fifth singles title Down Under.

Halep, bidding to win her first grand slam, has finally cracked through to be the top seed at a major after a string of high seedings - dating back to 2014. She could face two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the third round and Karolina Pliskova in the quarters.

The Australian Open, the first grand slam of the 2018 season, starts Monday with everyone wondering if Roger Federer can repeat his remarkable victory 12 months ago.

Having yet to reach a grand slam quarter-final in 10 attempts - and only once venturing beyond the third round previous year - Zverev admits he can do without striking a heavyweight early.

That is giving Djokovic some hope.

"Is the first time I am here without playing official match - is new situation for me", Nadal said. "Everything at the moment is going in the right direction".

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