Friday, 18 January, 2019

Federer and Nadal on collision course in Oz open draw

Paul Annacone 'Roger Federer's environment is complex' Novak Djokovic faces qualifier at Australian Open while Roger Federer draws Denis Istomin
Kristopher Love | 10 January, 2019, 18:14

He will start his drive to make history against a yet-to-be-decided qualifier and could meet France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second round.

Serena Williams, who won the Australian Open in 2017 while pregnant with daughter Alexis Olympia, returns as the 16th-seeded player after missing last year's tournament.

This year, Wilander - a three-time champion at the Australian Open - says Federer's hopes of a 21st Grand Slam lie exclusively on the hard courts of Melbourne Park.

Andy Murray has offered a supportive fan free tickets to his opening match of the Australian Open as an apology for being thrashed by Novak Djokovic on Thursday. Spaniard Rafael Nadal and defending champion Roger Federer were seeded second and third respectively.

One of the standout matchups of the first round sees unseeded Nick Kyrgios' meet 2016 semifinalist and 16th seed Milos Raonic, with the victor of that contest going through to face either 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka or Ernests Gulbis.

The Scot was bundled out of the Brisbane International warm-up last week in round two by Russia's Daniil Medvedev and headed straight to Melbourne to fit in some much-needed practice. Halep has a tough opening encounter against Kaia Kanepi and a possible third rounder against Venus Williams.

One more here would see him follow Jimmy Connors as the only man in the Open era to hit three figures, as well as taking him past Djokovic and Roy Emerson at Melbourne Park.

The pair have met four times in finals at Melbourne Park, with Djokovic winning them all, but those memories made this all the more disappointing.

"The hip is incredibly difficult to come back from for especially a tennis player and someone that has worked as hard as he's worked, put the miles on", ESPN tennis pundit Patrick McEnroe said.

Last year's surprise semi-finalist Kyle Edmund, the 13th seed, faces a tough first-round clash against former top-10 stalwart Tomas Berdych, who is unseeded following injury, while Cameron Norrie takes on American Taylor Fritz in a rematch of the quarter-finals of the ASB Classic in Auckland which the British No 2 won. "I'm just enjoying every minute of it".