Nadal gets an easy draw, Djokovic doesn't

Roger Federer

EPARoger Federer has arrived in Melbourne for the Australian Open

It was not so much the compression sleeve that the 30-year-old was wearing to aid his troublesome right elbow, but more an abbreviated service motion that proved hugely effective, helping him to a 6-1, 6-4 win over Dominic Thiem at the Kooyong Classic exhibition.

Djokovic, returning from injury, has his work cut out for him Down Under. Former world No. 1 Moya will lead the Mallorcan's team, after spending last season with Rafael and Toni preparing for the latter's retirement, having helped Nadal roar back to life after a barren three-year spell without a Grand Slam trophy.

Giorgi, belying her ranking of 100th in the world, beat US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the first round and then ousted twice Wimbledon and former Sydney champion Petra Kvitova.

Third seed Grigor Dimitrov and fifth seed David Goffin must face qualifiers whose identities are yet to be determined, while Marin Cilic, seeded sixth, faces Taiwan's Lu Yen-hsun.

Fast forward 12 months and it is hard to envisage the two tennis greats going head-to-head again in a showdown for the ages at Melbourne Park on January 28 - and it is all because of the 31-year-old Spaniard and world number one.

"There was a doubt, especially after I pulled out of the first week of the year", said Djokovic, who had not played since retiring in the Wimbledon quarter-finals last July.

Muguruza, who withdrew from the Sydney International before the quarterfinals with a sore right thigh after retiring during her first match at the Brisbane International because of cramping, is in the same quarter as U.S. Open finalist Madison Keys, Australian Open 2016 champion Kerber and five-time major victor Maria Sharapova, returning to Melbourne two years after a failed doping test here led to a 15-month suspension.

Roger Federer
GETTY Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal fought a memorable five-set final in 2017

Of course, British fans want know if this will be the year when Johanna Konta [25.0] takes a giant leap and wins her first Slam. "I don't think there's anybody else that you could say is a favourite other than Roger at the moment".

Federer's big concern would be against del Potro in the quarters.

"I played better than I thought might happen [on Wednesday] and most importantly I played without pain".

Grigor Dimitrov, a semifinalist here a year ago, is seeded third and six-time champion Novak Djokovic - coming back from a six-month injury layoff - is 14th.

Five-time champion Federer, meanwhile, will begin his title defence against the 51st ranked Aljaz Bedene. Luckily for me Im here and so Im hoping in the next four, five days everything will go well and Ill be ready for the Open.”.

In a women's field notably missing 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, there appear to be many chances of a new Australian Open champion this year.

"It was a great test for me to see where I am, to see how I feel, to hear the score being called and feel the pressure of break points".

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