Sport

Federer embraces Australian Open favouritism

Federer embraces Australian Open favouritism”

Twelve-time Grand Slam victor Djokovic has been sidelined since Wimbledon in July because of a right elbow injury, but beat world number five Dominic Thiem in straight sets in the Kooyong Classic this week.

The Swiss legend, who starts as favourite to win his 20th Grand Slam title, has been handed a tough draw as he could face either 22nd seed Milos Raonic or 13th seed Sam Querrey as early as in the fourth round.

A few minutes later when the formalities were completed, Federer found out how hard defending his title could be after landing in the same half as six-time champion Novak Djokovic.

Australia is guaranteed at least one woman in the second round after wildcards Jaimee Fourlis and Olivia Rogowska were pitted against each other first up.

Meanwhile, 2017 Australian Open champion Serena Williams opted out of the competition, saying that her preparations had fallen just short of what she needed to be competitive after giving birth in September.

While some of the sport's biggest names, including six-time champion Novak Djokovic, face a torrid time merely surviving the first week of the year's first major starting on Monday, Kyrgios could scarcely have scripted a better draw as the 17th seed.

Federer displayed that freedom a year ago and Wilander believes that fellow Swiss Wawrinka, who ended last season in August with a knee complaint, could arrive with a similar attitude this time around at Melbourne Park.

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.

In the bottom half, Wozniacki will not be unduly anxious by the first week, although Ostapenko could lurk in the quarters.

Williams could face Ukraine's fourth seed Elina Svitolina in the quarter-finals. But players who do not "perform to the required professional standard" in round one, including by retiring, also risk being fined their prize money, the new rules say.

Federer won the 2017 Australian Open. Those players are on the bottom half with second-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, who is ranked inside the top two for the first time since 2012.

In a separate rule change created to get matches started more quickly, warm-up times will be strictly enforced.

There had been doubt whether he would even make the trip to Melbourne.



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