Federer has battle on his hands to defend Australian Open title

Halep's rise to the summit came despite the Romanian failing to break her grand-slam duck.

Previous year was dominated by the Federer and Nadal who shared the spoils by winning two Grand Slams each with Federer being the reigning Australian Open Champion.

Top seed Rafael Nadal has been drawn against Victor Estrella Burgos in the opening round of the Australian Open, while reigning champion Roger Federer meets Aljaz Bedene.

Serena Williams has opted not to defend her title four months after giving birth to her first child, leaving the women's draw open.

Five-time Aussie Open champ Djokovic is seeded 14th and plays Donald Young in the first round, however, his journey gets harder from there with a possible fourth-round clash against Alexander Zverev, then either Dominic Thiem or Wawrinka and maybe Federer, David Goffin or del Potro in the semi-finals, sounds easy.

Kyrgios landed on the opposite side of the draw to defending champion Federer, raising the possibility of a dream final for Open officials.

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.

Twelve months on from his unforgettable surge to a fifth Open crown aged 35 and in his first official tournament back after six months out of the game, Federer admits he can still barely believe what he pulled off.

Federer displayed that freedom a year ago and Wilander believes that fellow Swiss Wawrinka, who ended last season in August with a knee complaint, could arrive with a similar attitude this time around at Melbourne Park.

With so many players in contention and so much firepower, handling the stress will be the key, according to Mats Wilander.

A rematch of last year's Australian Open semifinal with 2017's strongest finisher, Grigor Dimitrov, is on the cards. Chris Kermode, executive chairman of the men's tour, the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), promised a shake-up, although he accepted the players' reasons for withdrawing.

They will also be restricted to five minutes' warm-up time on court, and another one minute before the first point.

The Swiss marvel rates his magical Melbourne Park comeback from a career-threatening knee injury above even his incredible eighth Wimbledon triumph last July.

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