March 19, 2018

Thiem in doubt for Australian Open campaign

13 January 2018, 04:19 | Sandy Nunez

Australian Open 2018: From Novak Djokovic's comeback to battle for WTA No 1, reasons to watch 1st Grand Slam of the year

Djoko, Wawrinka and Muguruza all battling to make the Aussie Open

A knee injury which has prevented Nadal from playing competitively since losing to David Goffin at the ATP Finals in November has restricted the 16-time major champion to just a pair of exhibition contests in Melbourne - a far cry from his run to the quarter-finals at the Brisbane International past year. "So that's the good news".

During the four months since Rafael Nadal's closing, charging, vaguely awkward, utterly effective backhand volley went through the court untouched to end the U.S. Open, the 2018 Australian Open promised a Grand Slam pretty much unparalleled.

Serena Williams, who was pregnant when she beat Venus here a year ago to claim her 23rd major title, gave birth to her first child — Alexis Olympia — in September. He is seeking consecutive major wins for the first time since winning the French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open in 2010.

"Over time, tennis has become more physically demanding - something the men experience over five sets, the women over three". "No one ever wants to let themselves down".

For women's singles event, Caroline Wozniacki is seeded second Garbine Muguruza followed by Elina Svitolina, Venus Williams, Karoliina Pliskova, Jelena Ostapenko, Caroline Garcia, Johanna Konta, CoCo Vandeweghe.

Novak Djokovic made a resounding return on Wednesday after being six months out with an elbow injury, declaring he felt “great” after beating world number five Dominic Thiem 6-1, 6-4 at the Kooyong Classic.The Serbian 12-time Grand Slam victor was in good form, and full of optimism, after his first competitive outing since losing a Wimbledon quarterfinal to Tomas Berdych last July.

On a day which saw Britain's last qualifying hope, Cameron Norrie, fall by the wayside, Edmund landed the most awkward of first-round draws against 11 seed Anderson, a 6ft 8in South African whose previous conquests at major tournaments include Andy Murray and Milos Raonic.

In the bottom half, Wozniacki will not be unduly anxious by the first week, although Ostapenko could lurk in the quarters.

Federer arrives for AO18        The defending champion has his first hit on RLA                                
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Federer arrives for AO18 The defending champion has his first hit on RLA Share this

Muguruza is expecting the constant changes at the top of the women's game to continue in 2018.

“I feel great, I was eager to get onto the court, ” he said after playing with a flesh-coloured sleeve on his right arm. "A lot of changing, I feel".

The Russian captured his first ATP title past year and reached the US Open quarter-finals - where he couldn't pull off a major upset and beat eventual champion Rafael Nadal.

"I'm still not 100 percent — hopefully in three or four days I will be there", Djokovic said after beating Thiem in an exhibition match at Kooyong this week.

"With Roger, I always felt that he was so gifted and able to do so many things so comfortably that as long as he stayed healthy and driven and enjoyed what he was doing, there was no reason he couldn't claw his way back", adds Annacone.

Dimitrov acknowledged Vallverdu for helping him develop a new-found mental toughness, and the duo will hope to build on that victory at the O2 when gracing the hard courts of Melbourne - a tournament where he reached the semis a year ago.

"I know he's got a bit of a mixed image for some people".

The Australian Open is the flawless way to kick-start a new tennis season - unlike all the other Majors which have their fair share of warm-up events, the "Happy Slam" throws everyone into the mix right from the word go.

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