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Record-chasing Federer and home-hope woe

Record-chasing Federer and home-hope woe

Austrian world No.5 Dominic Thiem insists he'll be fit for the start of the Australian Open as he recovers from a virus and jet-lag.

Djokovic and Wawrinka, though, are yet to demonstrate that they have fully recovered from the respective elbow and knee injuries that have sidelined the pair since August.

He could have to beat his brother Mischa, six-time champion Djokovic and then 2014 winner Wawrinka if he is even to reach the last four, where a semi-final against reigning champion Federer could await.

Here, we assess the chances of the favourites, outsiders and dark horses following the draw for the first slam of 2018...

Top seed Rafael Nadal, who also hasn't entered any warm-up events, will take on Victor Estrella Burgos for the first time in round one and will be pretty pleased with his draw.

"For me, the first thing is to play a match, to play a tennis match again".

Australian hopes will rest largely on the shoulders of 17th seed Nick Kyrgios, who won the Brisbane International on Sunday but has struggled with his temperament and openly admitted to lacking dedication in recent years.

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Novak Djokovic has been side-lined since Wimbledon in July, and although he looked good in his comeback against Dominic Thiem at the Kooyong Classic, his match fitness in an ATP match remains to be seen. "But when he's on, he's on, and he's really difficult to beat". The 2018 Australian Open may provide some answers.

The Swiss marvel, chasing a sixth Australian Open crown, could also face big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic in the fourth round in the bottom half of the men's draw.

Bedene, who has defected back to represent Slovenia after losing numerous appeals to turn out for Great Britain in the Davis Cup, will take on the number two seed in the first round. It was fourth title on the ATP tour and his first on home soil, after ending 2017 early with injury.

The 22-year-old crowd-puller, ranked 17, has the exceptional talent to beat the best but so often undermines his brilliance with petulance directed at the umpire or fans.

"He's a great guy - he's going through the things, whatever he needs to go through".

The 20-year-old Russian captured his first ATP World Tour title as a lucky loser at Umag before becoming the youngest US Open quarter-finalist last year since Andy Roddick, beating the higher-ranked Dimitrov and Goffin. He eventually went down to Nadal but showed enough spunk to be noticed.


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