Federer in right space as Open rivals play catch up

Novak Djokovic calls for pay increase, proposes players' union

Novak Djokovic calls for pay increase, proposes players' union

The Australian Open will definitely not have a repeat champion this year with Serena Williams remaining on maternity leave after the birth of her first child, daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., in September.

But the father-of-four said at his age and in his 19th Australian Open, he liked to play down his chances.

This time previous year, then 17th seeded Roger Federer entered the Australian Open after a six-month layoff, facing a minefield of a draw.

Federer said: "Well, totally different".

"For him it's maybe in his mind and his body because he still needs to work much more than he now is". He will open a hard road against the American Donald Young, ranked No. 63, and, if Djokovic surpasses that, he would reach probably Gael Monfils and Wawrinka, the latter a three-time Grand Slam champion, 2014 Australian champion and veteran of knee surgery that prevented a title defense last August and September in NY.

That is not writing off home favourite [if we can call him that] Nick Kyrgios, who won the Brisbane last week though he battled injury to win his first ATP tour title on home soil.

"I'd like to do well". I still have a lot of work to do physically and also tennis-wise to be to my top level.

Meanwhile, if Kyrgios falls early - which he is perfectly capable of - and Nadal remains fit, it's hard to see the World No 1 not making the Australian Open final, where he would fancy himself over anyone.

Federer in right space as Open rivals play catch up

While Stephens speaks of hope heading into the new year, she didn't start 2018 on a high note. "They know when they're coming, whatever day they bought tickets, there's going to be great matches on". "Is the first time I am here without playing official match", he said.

Serena Williams beat her older sister Venus Williams in the final to capture an Open era-record 23rd major here previous year but decided against defending her title because she didn't have enough time to recover from health issues after a complicated childbirth in September.

"You know, I feel like maybe somebody like a Rafa, with the year that he's had, and Novak with the six titles he's had here, even if it's unknown how he's feeling, they could very well be the favourites, too". If I lose a match, at the end of the day, it's a tennis match. She kept a potential return in play until last week, when she pegged herself as "not where I personally want to be" after playing one exhibition in Abu Dhabi in late December.

"The way I kind of conducted myself in my matches, I think that's the main improvement".

Barty enjoyed a career-best season as she claimed the 2017 Newcombe Medal as Australian tennis' best-performed player.

"The championship is open in the sense there are so many great players", added the Australian-born Briton.

She lost in the Auckland Classic final last week to Germany's Julia Goerges but said the rain-disrupted tournament had been tough ideal preparation. She said it didn't leave her enough time to feel confident of winning a major. But perhaps the biggest threat looming in that quarter is Nick Kyrgios, who could be eying bigger things after intermittently showing just how good he is a year ago. I'm not going to say quarter-finals, semi-finals, anything like that.


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