Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

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

Shannon Reynolds | 14 January, 2018, 02:20

Del Potro could run into two-time Australian Open semifinalist Tomas Berdych in the third round, should the Czech take down fleet-footed Australian wildcard Alex De Minaur.

Roger Federer is the "clear favourite" to retain his Australian Open title over an injury-riddled field when the first grand slam of the season starts next week in Melbourne.

The bottom half of the draw has some incredible match-ups with last year's runner-up Venus Williams drawing Belinda Bencic in the first round.

Will Federer defend his title? But what a pleasure to be here on Margaret Court Arena.

First up, the 36-year-old Swiss will play Ajaz Bedene of Slovenia.

His return, after a six-month injury layoff, at the Australian Open, where he is a six-time champion, will be a rebirth of sorts.

Djokovic and Wawrinka, though, are yet to demonstrate that they have fully recovered from the respective elbow and knee injuries that have sidelined the pair since August. Nor did it matter that amid the din of Federer and Nadal re-establishing their duopoly in 2017, much of the tennis world around them had a dishevelled look to it.

The Australian Open men's draw really is a tale of two halves.

The 16-time Grand Slam victor was far from his best in the exhibition encounter against a player he has beaten 15-0 on the ATP Tour in a rivalry dating back to junior days.

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Some of his actions leading up to this year's federal holiday honoring King's birth seemed to be an attempt to live up to that. In a series of tweets on Friday, Trump also suggested that momentum toward a deal on maintaining such protection had stalled.

Twelve months on from his unforgettable surge to a fifth Open crown aged 35 and in his first official tournament back after six months out of the game, Federer admits he can still barely believe what he pulled off.

The seedings have gone largely according to the ATP world rankings, although Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori are out injured and women's champion Serena Williams opted not to play after giving birth in September.

Forty-three per cent of the men players in this year's Australian Open will be at the age of 30 years or more, proving that experience has a major say in tennis supremacy and in all sport in general.

Simona Halep, who was upset in the first round past year by American Shelby Rogers, and Caroline Wozniacki, who lost in the third round in 2017, were seeded one and two.

Third-seeded Muguruza is in a hard quarter containing former Australian Open champions Maria Sharapova and Angelique Kerber, and U.S. Open finalist Madison Keys.

Take the two men that contested last year's final, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, they are considered by many as the frontrunners once again.

Zverev is considered the heir apparent to the ATP's aging superstars but his hopes of advancing deep into this slam could come under an early threat from two risky floaters in the most hotly contested quarter of the draw.

Other stars may join the list before getting the chance to play in Melbourne, or perhaps even after they start their opening-round matches, and discover their bodies are not truly ready for the grind.

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