Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Potential semi final between Federer and Djokovic in the Australian Open

Potential semi final between Federer and Djokovic in the Australian Open

He must now win three sudden-death qualifying matches this week to secure his Open entry for a 10th straight year."I'm not going to say anything (about not getting a wildcard)", he told reporters after his first appearance of the year at the Kooyong Classic exhibition, where he lost to Japan's world number 169 Yoshihito Nishioka in straight sets.

The evergreen Swiss was a popular but unlikely victor upon his return from injury when he defeated Rafael Nadal in last year's final to claim his 18th grand slam title, before going on to triumph at Wimbledon in July.

Caroline Wozniacki, seeded two, will be fancying her chances of a first grand slam title, while who would bet against Venus Williams flying the family flag at 37 years of age, although a first round against Belinda Bencic is a tough opening hurdle.

Nadal could face world number six Marin Cilic of Croatia in the quarter-finals.

The former world number one, who will be chasing a record seventh Australian Open crown next week, had pulled out of a warm-up Abu Dhabi tournament, raising concerns over whether he would be fit enough to play at Melbourne Park.

Reigning Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, seeded third, rounds out the top half of the draw and could face a daunting test in the third round from either 2016 champion Angelique Kerber or 2008 champion Maria Sharapova.

The Swiss is both favourite and defending champion going into the Australian Open, having triumphed in a breath-taking five-set victory over his old adversary, and friend, Rafael Nadal a year ago.

The last time a Grand Slam champion took a six-month absence due to injury they went on to win the Australian Open, and Djokovic will look to take a leaf out of Federer's book when taking part in his first major tournament since Wimbledon.

As for Federer, it is business as usual in his pursuit of a remarkable 20th grand slam.

Djokovic and Federer must navigate past Juan Martin del Potro, David Goffin, Mischa Zverev and Alexander Zverev in their half of the draw.

"Unbelievable. In my vision, I never had this, that I was going to be playing tennis with four kids".

Six-times Melbourne Park champion Djokovic, seeded 14th after missing the back end of last season with an elbow injury, will take on American lefthander Donald Young in his first match with mercurial Frenchman Gael Monfils looming in round two.

"It even beats Wimbledon and all the other tournaments I won a year ago".

Serena Williams has opted not to defend her title four months after giving birth to her first child, leaving the women's draw open.

"He could always get picked off early", McEnroe said.

Eight players retired from the first round at the All-England Club, including the opponents of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic during the second sets of their matches on Centre Court.

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