Nadal, Federer seeded 1-2 at Australian Open

Nadal, Federer seeded 1-2 at Australian Open

A few minutes later when the formalities were completed, Federer found out how hard defending his title could be after landing in the same half as six-time champion Novak Djokovic. There are a host of contenders vying for the two singles crowns and the next two weeks promise plenty of drama, on and off the court. "Australians are always getting great support here".

The Australian Open 2018 will be contested from January 15 to January 28 at the very prestigious Melbourne Park.

The Australian Open is the flawless way to kick-start a new tennis season - unlike all the other Majors which have their fair share of warm-up events, the "Happy Slam" throws everyone into the mix right from the word go. This has also resulted in injuries to top players and this years Aus open is an example.

"They have inspired me to look deeper, to dip deeper inside myself, to understand what it takes to dethrone these guys". Ideally I would have had another tournament before the start of the Open, but it was not meant to be. While at this stage it would be bold to rule out Federer or Nadal completely, I am not confident that either will lift the title.

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.

It was an unpleasant surprise and a reminder that - without Murray, who is convalescing in Melbourne after hip surgery - the British ranks are painfully lacking in depth.

Wawrinka's own attempts to prove his fitness have not proved so fruitful.

Elsewhere, all eyes will be on Maria Sharapova as she returns for only her second grand slam tournament since serving a drugs ban.

'He's the defending champion coming out of a strong, unbelievable year. It throws the women's race wide open with Simona Halep the top seed.

The 2018 Australian Open is just around the corner and that means it's time for the all-important draw to be announced. However, the battle for No 1 will continue over the next two weeks.

The draw for both men and women consists of 128 players. From the chasing pack, only Muguruza and Ostapenkoa have Slam titles to their name while the rest are all looking for their maiden trophy. 2017's beaten finalist is up against Belinda Bencic in the opening round. But for the leading favourites, there are plenty of records to chase after.

Between them, grand slam giants Roger Federer (19), Rafael Nadal (16), Novak Djokovic (12) and Andy Murray (3) have amassed an extraordinary 50 major championships since 2003.

Tiley's mood would have improved even further after Nadal returned to the court for an exhibition match at the Kooyong Classic.

Will the real Next Gen please stand up?

The best-of-five format for the men's matches is a gruelling challenge that none of the members of the Next Gen has yet found a way to overcome.

Lying in wait on his half of the draw are potential match ups against fellow Swiss, and 2014 victor Stan Wawrinka, Dominic Thiem, Gael Monfils, Juan Martin del Potro, and six-time champ Novak Djokovic. To succeed at the majors, endurance and stamina have become an increasingly necessary ingredient as baseline play has come to dominate the game. The Next Gen has been knocking on the door for a while, but will this year be finally when they breakthrough?

In a separate rule change created to get matches started more quickly, warm-up times will be strictly enforced.

Over to you, Melbourne Park, for a fortnight of the best this sport has to offer.

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