Sports

Dominic Thiem an Australian Open doubt after Kooyong Classic withdrawal

Dominic Thiem an Australian Open doubt after Kooyong Classic withdrawal

"This is not normal", Federer told a crowd of hundreds of fans before the draw on Thursday at Margaret Court Arena.

First up, the 36-year-old Swiss will play Ajaz Bedene of Slovenia. Federer, on the other hand, has Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin Del Potro, Goffiin and Zverev to contend with in his half.

And let's not forget about one of the best first round matches between Denis Shapolvalov meeting Stefanos Tsitsipas.

He pulled out of an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi late last month before travelling to Australia to prepare for the Open.

He returned to action at a non-tour event - Kooyong Classic - and lost his first match there to Richard Gasquet on Tuesday, January 9.

Four years since Nadal entered the year's first Grand Slam as the top seed, the Spaniard again finds himself with the No.1 next to his name on the draw.

Caroline Wozniacki, the second seed after her resurgence in 2017 when she reached eight finals, opens against Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania in the bottom half of the draw.

While pleased at his progress, Djokovic, who has dropped to 14 in the world, admitted he still had work to do ahead of the opening Grand Slam of the year.

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World No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov faces a qualifier first up and could face American Jack Sock in the quarters.

The seedings have gone largely according to the ATP world rankings, although Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori are out injured and women's champion Serena Williams opted not to play after giving birth in September.

Her sister Venus, who lost the all-Williams Australian Open final a year ago, has a tough opener against Belinda Bencic - who combined with Federer to win the Hopman Cup for Switzerland last week - and is also in the same quarter as U.S. Open victor Sloane Stephens.

The big features of the women's draw is that the top seed and world No.1, Simona Halep still hasn't won a Grand Slam title.

"So (it was) a huge surprise, especially after the six months I had off, and what a comeback it was and it was definitely the highlight of the year".

Third-seeded Muguruza is in a hard quarter containing former Australian Open champions Maria Sharapova and Angelique Kerber, and U.S. Open finalist Madison Keys.

A knee injury which has prevented Nadal from playing competitively since losing to David Goffin at the ATP Finals in November has restricted the 16-time major champion to just a pair of exhibition contests in Melbourne - a far cry from his run to the quarter-finals at the Brisbane International previous year.


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