Australian Open shaping up as survival of fittest


Nadal played 78 matches a year ago, which is 21 more than Federer.

Quarter two looks largely between Grigor Dimitrov and Nick Kyrgios, although Kevin Anderson is also a threat, while quarter three looks a tough one to predict, with the main seed Zverev joined by Djokovic and Wawrinka, as well as Dominic Thiem, Gael Monfils and Roberto Bautista-Agut. He will open a hard road against the American Donald Young, ranked No. 63, and, if Djokovic surpasses that, he would reach probably Gael Monfils and Wawrinka, the latter a three-time Grand Slam champion, 2014 Australian champion and veteran of knee surgery that prevented a title defense last August and September in NY.

Knee problems hindered him after winning his second Grand Slam of the year at the US Open, but he still appeared at the season-ending ATP Finals - playing one match against David Goffin before pulling out.

That is giving Djokovic some hope.

"If I'm not feeling good, probably I will not be here", Nadal said after his error-filled loss to Richard Gasquet in an exhibition this week. "Obviously I've achieved certain things that I've always wanted to. Who would predict that after his six months of absence, so. everything is possible really". They split the four Grand Slam titles.

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Off the court, the 30-year-old Serbian said he enjoyed a closer-to-normal family life off the court, including being there when his wife, Jelena, gave birth to their second child - a daughter, Tara, in September. "No one ever wants to let themselves down". "That's my goal, was to come here, to practise three, four hours a day, to see how the knee can keep it". "I don't want to say "new serve", but new service motion". That was it. "I've learned so much from that match". "Whenever I get asked that question, it always comes across in really kind of an nearly negative way instead of acknowledging how many great players we have", Johanna Konta, who reached the semifinals of Wimbledon past year, said in her pre-tournament conference.

Injuries to leading players have been a focus of attention in Australia.

Andy Murray has had to extend his six-month absence by having hip surgery, while Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka have not played competitively since Wimbledon in July although the pair, unlike the Briton, will be at Melbourne Park. I'm moving towards 100 per cent. I've split tennis players into half-decade long generations, based on their year of birth, starting from 1950 going all the way up to 1999, to have 10 distinct player generations. "I've played a lot of them now".

"So hopefully I can improve that".

Nadal won the French Open and the US Open, while the Swiss ace took his tally to 19 with the Australian Open and Wimbledon. Wawrinka hasn't played since the first round of Wimbledon at the start of July, while Raonic's comeback last week wasn't almost good enough, facing 10 break points in defeat in his first match back against youngster Alex de Minaur.