Novak Djokovic, Venus Williams face tough roads — Australian Open draw

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Awaiting him there should be holder Federer (2), whose first scheduled seeded opponent may be Richard Gasquet (29).

Should Djokovic come through that, he could face France's former world No 6 Gael Monfils, who enters the Australian Open as the recently-crowned Qatar Open champion - a tournament Djokovic has twice won but opted to miss this year to continue his recovery.

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A place in the third round could set up a tie with either Albert Ramos-Vinolas, the world No 22 from Spain, or American Jared Donaldson. "Always loved coming here".

Since 2010, only Wawrinka and Cilic outside the quarter of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray have emerged victorious in 28 finals.

Seeded women in the tournament were lucky to avoid the threat of Maria Sharapova who is ranked 47th in the world after serving a doping suspension in 2017.

"When you see those type of opportunities, you need to be able to seize them", he said. Federer is seeded No. 2 as he bids for a 20th Grand Slam singles title. It will be held on Margret Court Arena with tennis fans encouraged to attend.

"He looks younger than ever", ESPN tennis analyst and former professional Patrick McEnroe told reporters on a call on Wednesday. "The grass was goofy". However, this is Melbourne and not Paris, where the Spaniard has reigned supreme, with honours shared over two Aussie finals. The club was crowded.

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Venus Williams, the No. 5 seed, was dealt one of the toughest possible opening draws, facing 77th-ranked Belinda Bencic, a teen prodigy whose ranking fell after she had left wrist surgery last year. "Men get injured and that's the reason half the top 10 is injured. It was the highlight of last year, beating Wimbledon and all the other tournaments I played".

But, beneath the gleaming Djokovic exterior, cracks appeared, first emerging in Melbourne. He failed to win another major in 11 tries but entered his most prolific period with another title Down Under three years later. Exciting crossovers between the two aren't uncommon - one can leave behind their mark (or better still a mural) at the Graffiti Street.

"I think he's incredibly talented - we had a great match in Miami last year and also at the Laver Cup".

"Mentally and emotionally, having kids, having a family, he gets away from the game". In the same period, he beat Federer 11 times out of 17 (including one walkover) and Murray 14 times out of 17.

The Australian Open will begin on January 15.

"Everything in life happens for a reason", he said.

"I'm so thankful to Peter Carter and Tony Roche, and [also] just [the Australian] people", he said.

"At that time, it wasn't as bad so I was managing it".

"All these things all play into it but at the end of the day I've been in this position thankfully many times before".

Bulgarian star Grigor Dimitrov, who is also known as Baby Roger, will follow the big two as the third seed. "When you lose, it's just brutal".