Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic drawn in same half for Australian Open

2018 Australian Open player profile Rafael Nadal

2018 Australian Open player profile Rafael Nadal

Ideally I would have had another tournament before the start of the Open, but it was not meant to be.

"We were training really hard, the off-season was really good and I want to show this season that I did some improvements and we will see in my game, time will show", Rublev insisted.

Djokovic had a contrasting 2017, starting at No. 2 but losing in a second-round upset at the Australian Open and not playing again after Wimbledon.

Here's a look at some of the storylines that could define Australian Open 2018. "Especially it's only 20 minutes away from Rod Laver Arena so it's the same conditions and we'll see in a couple of days (where I'm at)".

Federer hailed Nadal for putting up a great fight in last year's Open.

If the 17th seed can avoid an early slip up he'll likely come up against 2008 Finalist Jo Wilfried Tsonga in the third round, a win there and third seed Grigor Dimitrov, whom the Australian beat last week in the Brisbane International, will likely await.

The Serb, who has built a reputation as one of the most formidable players in men's tennis, suffered a temporary blow to that status after being side-lined with an elbow problem for the past six months.

Roger Federer returns to defend his title while Serena Williams will be in Florida with her baby girl.

Nadal won his 16th Grand Slam title at the 2017 US Open
Nadal won his 16th Grand Slam title at the 2017 US Open

"I say this without a lot of conviction, but I feel like Halep had such a disappointing 2017 in the majors, and I feel she is determined to turn that around", Evert said.

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.

So maybe Nadal versus Federer in the final isn't so much of a long shot after all?

Former world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka could pose a serious threat to Alexander Zverev's hopes of mounting a breakout Grand Slam campaign at the Australian Open, where Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer can be confident of advancing to the latter stages. While the theme for last year's open may have been the year 2009, this year it appears to be uncertainty.

Despite many pundits, including John McEnroe, writing off Federer's Grand Slam chances, Annacone also believes his intelligence has been a crucial factor in his return to the top, with the Swiss tweaking his game to stay amongst the top stars.

The 31-year-old Spaniard is on course to meet Croatia's Marin Cilic in the last eight.

There has been little to cheer since the turn of the century and the last time an Australian made it to the men's final at Melbourne Park was Lleyton Hewitt in 2005.

Second seed Caroline Wozniacki will open her tournament against Romania's Mihaela Buzarnescu, while third seed Garbine Muguruza takes on French wildcard Jessika Ponchet.

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