Australian Open draw: Novak Djokovic, Venus Williams face tough roads

Zverev, 20, won five tournaments past year, including Masters 1000 events in Rome and Montreal, to announce himself as a force to be reckoned with. Victory in Melbourne, coupled with an early Nadal exit, could see him take it in Australia, six years after he last sat top of the tree.

For a man who has enjoyed such domination in the sport, holding the top spot in the rankings for over four years, it will feel a tad odd entering this particular Grand Slam some way down the list of favourites.

The women's draw delivered a more favourable result for Johanna Konta and Heather Watson, the two Britons who earned direct entry into the tournament.

To predict a victor of either of the singles titles is hard.

"I'd never skipped a grand slam, so it was unusual".

"The boys are young and one of them was watching me at the Hopman Cup last week and he said: 'I can do what Papa can, I can play tennis too'".

AUCKLAND: Top-seeded and defending champion Jack Sock bowed out of the ATP Tour's ASB Classic in its second round Wednesday, beaten 6-3, 6-3 by unseeded German Peter Gojowczyk on a bad day for American players.

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The woman who was the original target of the plot was told about the scheme, but has turned down an offer of protective services. The sheriff's office reportedly said the "murder-for-hire" case became a case of "mistaken identity", according to WESH .

It was naturally a welcome news to Australian Open director Craig Tiley. And of course there are all the health concerns, like with Nadal's knees and Djokovic's elbow.

Both Federer and Nadal have tipped Zverev to become a future champion, but the world No 4 admitted himself that an improvement is needed if he wants to claim a maiden major. With so much time off from the sport, it's going to be interesting to see just how much rust there is for Djokovic.

At the top end of the draw 2009 champion Nadal has a good run lined up with potentially sixth seed Cilic in the quarters and either the real outsider for the tournament, Grigor Dimitrov or Nick Kyrgios in the semi-finals. Martina Navratilova, who, like Court, is a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, is one of the more prominent figures who have called for a change.

Like many players, injuries plagued Kyrgios' 2017, but in front of a willing home crowd at Melbourne Park, the right-hander will be desperate to put on a dazzling display. As for the men's draw I am going to give Juan Martin del Potro the "dark horse" label.

Wawrinka has been battling a knee injury and has not played since he was knocked out in the first round of Wimbledon a year ago, and the Swiss was one of the major question marks heading into the January 15-28 Australian Open. However, doubts remain over his fitness and whether he has the longevity to win seven five set matches in two weeks.

Doubt was cast over whether Djokovic would be fit to play in the Australian Open, which starts on Monday, when he withdrew from warm-up events in Abu Dhabi and Doha. Williams is obviously the biggest name there, and is not yet ready for Grand Slam competition following the birth of her child.

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