Sports

Australian Open: Roger Federer plays down favourite tag

Australian Open: Roger Federer plays down favourite tag

While many top players on men's tour - which was hit by a spate of injury-forced withdrawals late last season - are making their return in Melbourne, their off-season hasn't been as intense as they would have hoped for. However, the Swiss legend was not really keen on accepting the tag.

"I still know what I'm capable of, and I believe in my own abilities to win against the best players in the world", he said ahead of his opening round clash.

"That's why I see things more relaxed, you know, at a later stage of my career".

Nadal remains a deserved world number one, and as Federer has a mountain of ranking points to defend in the first three months (he won 19 of his first 20 matches last year), the Spaniard is in a strong position to remain at the top until at least the start of the European clay court season in April.

Another Federer victory would shunt the grand slam record-holder onto equal footing for the most Australian titles with Djokovic and Queenslander Roy Emerson, who both have six.

Who or what is to blame for the injury epidemic that has sent Andy Murray to the operating table, while forcing both Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka into hibernation since Wimbledon? It just so happens that it turned into one of the best of his career.

"With age, I feel like, you know, I play down my chances just because I don't think a 36-year-old should be a favourite of a tournament, it should not be the case".

In-form Svitolina last week won the Brisbane International after picking up five WTA Tour titles a year ago, more than any other woman. "I know that if I get myself to my desired level of performance - mental and physical - that I can actually have a good chance to go far in the tournament". Having no expectations was so nice after all these years always having expectations, like now this year again.

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A 36-year-old, argued Roger Federer, should not be favourite to win the Australian Open.

There is a sneaky feeling that Federer, who is in good form by his showing at the Hopman Cup, where he helped Switzerland overcome Germany, is also fighting fit, and could snag a sixth Australian Open crown come January 28. When the subject was put to him on Saturday, Nadal suggested darkly that "Somebody have to look about what's going on". That's the reason why pundits are considering him the favourite for the title.

Federer is ready for title defence at the first Grand Slam of 2018, where he will take on Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene in the first round on Tuesday.

The Austrian world number five pulled out of the warm-up Qatar Open just hours before his semi-final with flu and a fever.

The 2014 victor Stan Wawrinka says his knee is holding up well after surgery but there was still pain and he is miffed that he no longer has coach Magnus Norman in his player's box.

"I don't put more, I don't put less pressure".

Entered into his first tournament draw since last year's Wimbledon, Djokovic starts in unfamiliar territory as the No.14 seed. All the five-setters, as well.

The Serbian former world number one has been out of action for six months, but he feels he's on the mend.


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