Djoko, Wawrinka and Muguruza all battling to make the Aussie Open

Who knows what Andre Agassi and Radek Stepanek will bring to the table this time around? I can't see him not collecting a sixth title in Melbourne. He mixed in the sublime play we're all accustomed to, with a level of grit we don't always see, having to fight back from a set down in three of his four matches.

The top 32 players for both the men's and the women's competition will be seeded.

"Roger with the year he had last year and Nadal, I don't think I'll be the favourite".

The tennis community and sporting world yearns for another instalment in the Federer-Nadal rivalry but while form is temporary and class is permanent, a lack of preparation may rob the Australian public of another unforgettable event. And since plans for a night nurse didn't work out, much of the responsibility with the baby fell on Alexis Sr.

Australian bad boy Bernard Tomic was fined a third of his £35,000 ($47,500) prize money for unsportsmanlike conduct at Wimbledon, after saying he felt "bored" and "couldn't care less" following a straight-sets defeat on day one. Djokovic is chasing his record seventh Australian Open title and has started off well with a reassuring 6-1, 6-4 win at the Kooyong Classic on January 10. Other than that, this year's Australian Open is going to be a wide-open race from start to finish. The defending champion returned to tennis after giving birth to daughter Olympia, at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship where she was beaten by French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko. And why not? Federer just had a Serena Williams-type of a revival in 2017, padding his Grand Slam haul to 19 by bagging the Australian and Wimbledon Open championships.

Alas, the chance of one of those young hopes coming from Britain seems unlikely - the Poms took a bashing in yesterday's draw. As for the men's draw I am going to give Juan Martin del Potro the 'dark horse' label. The World No 3 advanced to the quarter-finals of the Sydney International before suffering a thigh injury which forced her to retire from the event on Wednesday. That was before I saw his draw in Melbourne.

Last year was dominated by the Federer and Nadal who shared the spoils by winning two Grand Slams each with Federer being the reigning Australian Open Champion. But she doesn't want Alexis Jr.to follow her career path and become a professional tennis player.

Venus Williams, who last won a Slam in 2008, is seeded five and has a first-round encounter with Swiss Belinda Bencic.

Grigor Dimitrov has long been touted as the player most likely to break the 'Big Four' stranglehold.

The Melbourne Park might witness a blockbuster semi-final as Federer and Novak Djokovic, who is seeded 14th on his return after a six-month injury layoff, have been drawn in the same half.

In the 2017 Australian Open, Djokovic lost in the second round to Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan.

  • Ricardo Clara


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