Bookies bet on Federer to retain his Australian Open title


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

"I think there is a real opportunity for the next superstar".

The first grand slam always brings with it a sense of uncertainty.

Hours after battling past Kiki Bertens 6-3 7-6 (6) to advance to the quarter-finals, the 24-year-old Spanish top seed announced she would no longer be competing in the tournament.

If you look at their previous head-to-head records it is clear just how much of a tricky opponent Djokovic has proved for the pair, with him winning just over half of the matches against both Nadal and Federer.

"I am disappointed but I have talked to the WTA doctors and my team after the match and following their recommendation, I have made a decision to withdraw from the tournament", Muguruza said in a statement. "I'm happy with that".

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.

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It was a welcome sight for Australian Open organisers and fans following the withdrawals of five-time runner-up Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori as well as 23-time slam victor Serena Williams on the women's side, but Djokovic insisted he is still not 100 per cent fit with the tournament set to get underway on Monday.

"But, as he indicated this morning, he will be ready to play and it's great to see him out here".

"I knew that I can not make it with only Futures so I had to step up my game and try to compete at a higher level", explains Maamoun.

The tennis community and sporting world yearns for another instalment in the Federer-Nadal rivalry but while form is temporary and class is permanent, a lack of preparation may rob the Australian public of another unforgettable event. The previous year I was playing only Futures, now I'm playing this year a Grand Slam and I'm really focusing on Challengers, so it's a very big progress for me and I'm happy about it. "I don't like usually going to draws because they freak me out".

Williams' quarter also includes fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina and 13th-seeded Sloane Stephens, who won last year's U.S. Open but has lost all seven matches she's played since. "I'm excited about it and I've got a few days to practice". "I didn't expect to play at this level in the first match of the year".

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