Sunday, 23 September, 2018

Nadal and Djokovic could well be favourites in Melbourne, says Federer

Novak Djokovic says his elbow started acting up during 2016 Australian Open Novak Djokovic says his elbow started acting up during 2016 Australian Open 13 Jan 2018  View 528 by Gatto Luigi
Kristopher Love | 14 January, 2018, 15:44

I'm told he felt no pain in the elbow on Thursday, having played in two exhibition events the previous day.

Only two men can hold the top ranking in the first week of February - Nadal or Federer - regardless of what No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov or No. 4 Alexander Zverev or anybody else does in Melbourne. But the humble Swiss star talked down any suggestion that he should be considered the favourite for this year's Australian Open, reports Xinhua news agency.

The absence from Melbourne of injured Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori, and ongoing doubts about the fitness of world No 1 Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka, leave Federer as the man to beat.

The former world number one also noted that you need to give yourself a chance even if the draw is hard and also said that the last year's Australian Open was his the "tournament of the year" for him.

He has never been beyond the second round in Melbourne and the Australian public, who have not had a home victor in the men's singles since 1976, will expect him to progress deep into the tournament this time around. "That's what happened for me previous year - all ended up way better than I thought it would, as you know".

Without defending champion Serena Williams in the draw at the Australian Open, there's certainly an opportunity for another player to go on a surprising run and emerge as a first-time Grand Slam champion.

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.

There's also been a changing of the guard in his coaching box, with his long time mentor uncle Toni Nadal leaving his official entourage at the end of past year.

If he wins Australian Open, it will be his 17th grand slam and will also put him in an elite list of few players who have won all the Grand Slams at least twice in their career.

The grand slam starts on January 15.

Federer, who can return to world number one if he wins the title and Nadal loses before the quarter-finals, said he wasn't getting ahead of himself, and was only taking it one step at a time. The world's two top-ranked players will spearhead the charge to succeed Serena Williams at year's first major left wide open by the withdrawal of the defending champion and new mum. I think it's going to be helpful again for me this year because the court plays exactly the same in Perth and here in Melbourne.

The draw made for better reading for big names Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Caroline Wozniacki.

"I don't know how my body's going to behave this year or any other year".

• Venus Williams is a threat at 37 after finishing runnerup to her sister a year ago. I just need to know it's a long year. "I think personally I had a lot of things going on". "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".

Last year's course of events, though, should give even the most brazen of futurologists food for thought.

"Thinking outwardly and looking into the team, I'd say that's a very positive sign that Andre is coming to Australia to be with Novak".