Nadal preparation may cost repeat of Federer epic

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Roger Federer will open his Australian Open title defence against Slovenian Aljaz Bedene next week, while top seed Rafa Nadal, the losing finalist previous year, was paired with Dominican Victor Estrella Burgos at the draw yesterday.

In contrast, Nadal, especially after the almost six-hour long Australian Open final loss to Djokovic in 2012, realised that there was now someone who could outlast him, and switched to a more attacking game in 2013, with which he found considerable success.

Six times Australian Open champion Serbian Novak Djokovic will be 14th, after missing half of 2017 with an elbow injury.

Caroline Wozniacki, Garbine Muguruza and Elina Svitolina round out the top four.

Five-time grand slam victor Maria Sharapova is seeded 47th and will face former champion Angelique Kerber in third round if she starts with a couple victories in Melbourne. The seventh seed may have to deal with any of Fabio Fognini (25), Tomas Berdych (19) or Juan Martin del Potro (12) if he is to get to the last eight in Melbourne.

This year's Australian Open has been deprived of some of the biggest names including Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori.

Serena Williams has opted not to defend her title four months after giving birth to her first child, leaving the women's draw open. Which in turn spurs questions about whether women can play best-of-five matches, and the differences between men's and women's bodies-problematic territory few want to openly discuss. Kokkinakis is a good player too.

With tens of thousands of dollars at stake just for playing in round one, early injury pull-outs have often caused suspicion at Grand Slams, particularly at last year's Wimbledon. A lucky loser who gets into the draw would then receive the other half. "I'm just going to go out there, try to weather the storm, and try to play my game", De Minaur said.

Australian bad boy Bernard Tomic was fined a third of his £35,000 ($47,500) prize money for unsportsmanlike conduct at Wimbledon, after saying he felt "bored" and "couldn't care less" following a straight-sets defeat on day one.

Simply by turning up, they were eligible for prize money and avoided a fine.

It is no wonder that Roger Federer at 36 can produces such electrifying and immaculate tennis, comfortably taking out power tennis players and baseline warriors with a mix of court craft, deceit and anticipation.

"I had all these great five-setters and, at the end, the epic match against Rafa and, of course after six, seven matches, you start feeling like a different player, that you can't miss anymore and the fifth set was maybe the best set I ever played". The WTA's capriciousness only makes it more exciting and fascinating as it's nearly impossible to predict what could happen over the two weeks.

However, plans for a shot clock to enforce a 25-second time limit between points have been shelved, and will only be used in the qualifying tournament at Melbourne Park.

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