Tuesday, 24 April, 2018

Loving Federer having a ball at 36

Federer impressed by Kyrgios form Federer playing down Australian Open favouritism
Lucia Summers | 14 January, 2018, 15:44

Defending champion Roger Federer says rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic should be seen as leading contenders for the Australian Open as he is too old to be considered favourite. Top-ranked Nadal will get under way Monday night against Victor Estrella Burgos on Rod Laver Arena, where he lost the final in five sets to Federer a year ago.

"Whenever I get asked that question, it always comes across in really kind of an nearly negative way instead of acknowledging how many great players we have", the world number nine said.

Federer instead looked to Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic as more suitable favourites. "You just see it in every round, in tournaments, in slams".

"For me, the Australian Open always, if you are not 100 percent motivated to play this tournament, you probably you don't love this sport", he said.

While time will tell if Murray's initial optimism about playing at Wimbledon this summer is well placed, he is the biggest absentee in the men's draw after Stan Wawrinka finally declared himself fit enough yesterday to give it a try.

Nadal played 78 matches a year ago, which is 21 more than Federer. "All the five-setters, as well", he said. Having no expectations was so nice after all these years always having expectations, like now this year again.

"I mean, Roger and Rafa's year last year has shown age is just a number, especially in Roger's case", Djokovic said Saturday in his pre-tournament news conference. "That's why I see things more relaxed, you know, at a later stage of my career", explained Federer. Maria Sharapova is also an intriguing one to watch, as she competes in her first Australian Open since 2016 after sitting out past year due to suspension.

Federer begins his quest to match Djokovic's six Open wins against Slovenia's world No.49 Aljaz Bedene on Tuesday.

Federer impressed by Kyrgios form
Loving Federer having a ball at 36

De Minaur has the chance to continue his giant killing spree with an unfavourable first round Australian Open clash against world no.20 Tomas Berdych.

The 2014 victor Stan Wawrinka also makes his return from the sidelines, while a host of maiden major-title hopefuls will be looking to make their breakthrough at Melbourne Park. No man has more Australian titles than Djokovics six, and until last years shocking second-round exit, he had won five of the six contested from 2011-16.

She led the WTA Tour in prize money last year ahead of Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza and Simona Halep, who ended the year at No. 1.

Kyrgios comes into the tournament in great form after winning the Brisbane International, and the effortless way he defeated Grigor Dimitrov in the semi-final was a reminder of just how good he can be when he is fully focused.

"Yeah, it's great times in my life and in my career that we can make it all work, that I can still play tennis".

No such queries hang over his fitness this year and if bookmakers are to be believed the other 127 men in the draw will be fighting for the scraps from Federer's plate.

"It's been constantly playing, practice how hopefully I can play during the Australian Open".

Nadal, who is gunning for a 17th major title but only his second Australian Open crown, is making up for lost time from a knee injury at the tail-end of the 2017 season.

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