March 21, 2018

Rafael Nadal loses to Richard Gasquet at Kooyong Classic

14 January 2018, 12:32 | Sandy Nunez

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

At Australian Open, Novak Djokovic Faces Tough Draw

Maia soundly beat the 20-year-old 6-3 6-2 in just 68 minutes in their opening round clash at the Hobart International last Sunday. The Dane will also look to improve upon her record of semi finals in 2011 and win her first ever Grand Slam title.

Nadal, current runner-up of the Australian major, will have among the most complicated rivals in his picture the Croatian Marin Cilic and the Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, who could go against him in the quarterfinals and semifinals, in that order.

Nick Kyrgios of Australia will be the highest seed amongst the Australians after being seeded 14th. He is likely to face fifth seed Dominic Thiem as early as in the fourth round. This and a tough draw has merited him a 14th seeding only.

Daria Gavrilova will begin against a qualifier.

"(Simona) Halep is number one at the moment but we have four or five different girls. Kokkinakis is a good player too.

Top-ranked Rafael Nadal and defending champion Roger Federer have been seeded first and second for the Australian Open.

"Me and Safwat have been really good friends for a long time and past year we didn't play many tournaments together but we always try to support each other, help each other as much as we can, so it's a really good thing for me that I have him hear by my side and also that I'm there for him in his matches", says Maamoun.

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But he insists it is premature to contemplate a repeat clash with the Spaniard.

"We have emotional ties with Peter Carter and Tony Roche of course", he said, noting the powerful influence of South Australian Carter, an early coach who passed away in a auto accident in 2002, and Roche, who guided the Swiss to six majors between 2005 and 2007.

"I'll be over the moon if I can play, which I'm planning to".

"I'm free of fever and healthy again".

Djokovic says Federer is deserved favourite.

There is a difference, however, with Federer guiding Switzerland to their third Hopman Cup trophy - 17 years on from claiming the title alongside Martina Hingis. He withdrew from the 2017 ATP Finals in London due to a right knee injury. "We'll have to keep working on that because in my career there are two vital things, the serve and the return, where I start the point and where I have to attack so I don't have to run more than I need to".

Sharapova, who missed last year's Open while serving a ban after testing positive to banned substance Meldonium, said she still covets a return to the No 1 ranking. The Belarusian has been forced to remain in California after the presiding judge over her case ruled that her son couldn't leave California until the case has been resolved which has forced Azarenka to skip tournaments despite being fit to play.

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