AUSTRALIA OPEN: Federer drawn against Bedene, Nadal meets Burgos

Jose Verdugo
Enero 13, 2018

The first Grand Slam of the year is just around the corner and the excitement has already begun among the fans to find the top contenders to win the Australian Open.

Roger Federer will open his Australian Open title defence against Slovenian Aljaz Bedene next week, while top seed Rafa Nadal, the losing finalist past year, was paired with Dominican Victor Estrella Burgos at the draw yesterday.

Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic arrived here one year ago as the top two seeds at the Australian Open.

Picking a women's singles champion at the Australian Open could resemble a lucky dip this year with Serena Williams' continued absence again leaving the door ajar.

A six-time Australian Open champion, Djokovic wore a compression sleeve on his troublesome right elbow in his long-awaited return to the tennis court on Wednesday.

Seven-time grand slam victor Venus Williams has a tough opener against Belinda Bencic and will face 12th seed Julia Goerges in the fourth round if the seeds hold.

Djokovic, seeded a lowly 14th after six months out of tennis with an elbow injury, has been pitch-forked into the quarter of world No.4 Alexander Zverev and will start against American left-hander Donald Young. Federer could face seventh-seeded David Goffin or 12th-seeded Juan Martin del Potro in the quarter-finals.

Federer displayed that freedom past year and Wilander believes that fellow Swiss Wawrinka, who ended last season in August with a knee complaint, could arrive with a similar attitude this time around at Melbourne Park.

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His longevity has been marvelled at far and wide, underlined by the fact that his 2017 victory came 13 years after his first.

The Spaniard is set to face Damir Dzumhur in the third round, John Isner in the fourth and Marin Cilic in the quarter-finals - if the seedings work out.

Their replacement - a "lucky loser" from the qualifying tournament - will get the other 50 percent of the first-round prize money. He beat Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets in the second round of the 2017 US Open.

Any repeat this year and he would lose the lot.

Simply by turning up, they were eligible for prize money and avoided a fine. Thiem, who admittedly played far from his best, barely got a read of it.

In a separate rule change created to get matches started more quickly, warm-up times will be strictly enforced.

The Swiss marvel rates his magical Melbourne Park comeback from a career-threatening knee injury above even his incredible eighth Wimbledon triumph last July.

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