Grigor Dimitrov eyes Australian Open tennis breakthrough to end 'Big Four' dominance

Rod Laver 'Roger Federer is playing as well as he did at 21 age'

Rod Laver 'Roger Federer is playing as well as he did at 21 age' 4 Jan 2018  View 5267 by Gatto Luigi

Del Potro could run into two-time Australian Open semifinalist Tomas Berdych in the third round, should the Czech take down fleet-footed Australian wildcard Alex De Minaur.

World number ones Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep have been named top seeds for the first major of the season, Australian Open, which will commence from January 15 at the Melbourne Park.

Defending champion Federer will be aiming for a record 20th men's singles major crown, while last year's runner-up Nadal will look to reduce the gap between him and Federer by winning his 17th Grand Slam trophy. Her public stance against same-sex marriage, which is now legal in Australia after a vote previous year, has led to renewed calls that Margaret Court Arena should be renamed.

"All these things all play into it but at the end of the day I've been in this position thankfully many times before".

Djokovic, 30, is seeded 14th for this year's grand slam tournament in Melbourne - a reflection of his slide down the rankings following six months out with an elbow injury.

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ESPN analyst and former world number one Chris Evert said his experience and smooth style of play, which has left him relatively injury-free, set him apart from the field. Would we hold the Wimbledon '08 final between Federer and Nadal in such high-regard if it had been three-sets?

The Australian Open men's draw really is a tale of two halves.

There may be no Andy Murray, but the men's tournament will have no shortage of returning stars who will all be aiming to start 2018 by claiming the Australian Open title.

The Wimbledon champion is scheduled take on France's Jessika Ponchet in the first round, while French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko was paired with veteran Francesca Schiavone and U.S Open champion Sloane Stephens will take on China's Zhang Shuai.

Third-seeded Muguruza is in a hard quarter containing former Australian Open champions Maria Sharapova and Angelique Kerber, and U.S. Open finalist Madison Keys.

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Young gun Zverev had little luck in his first Australian Open draw as a top five seed with either Wawrinka, who plays Ricardas Berankis, or Novak Djokovic potentially standing in his path in the quarter-finals. Meanwhile, on the women's side, Venus Williams would be the oldest Grand Slam champion ever if she lifts the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup in two weeks' time.

Nadal will be the top seed, ahead of Roger Federer and young guns Grigor Dimitrov and Alexander Zverev. "Australians are always getting great support here". But players who do not "perform to the required professional standard" in round one, including by retiring, also risk being fined their prize money, the new rules say.

"The drive, I still have it".

"But I think in my eyes it's flawless preparation for next week". "I expect to continue to do so". "I put a lot of expectations on myself because I have been there, and I have delivered in those moments".

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