Djokovic fears Nadal and Fed in Melbourne

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.

Here, we assess the chances of the favourites, outsiders and dark horses following the draw for the first slam of 2018...

Andrea Petkovic recently suggested as much ahead of the Australian Open.

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

Last season gave renewed hope that Dimitrov might still blossom into the Grand Slam champion he seemed set to become as an extravagantly-talented junior.

"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".

Nowhere was that more evident than last year when Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer - supposedly past their best - triumphed to make the final, Federer eventually running out the victor in five sets.

Qualifying is free to attend, but with no matches underway due to wet weather, the crowd quickly made their way to the show court.

Williams's sister Venus, who lost to her sibling in the final last year, is seeded fourth and the 37-year-old was handed a tricky first encounter against Swiss former world number seven Belinda Bencic, who is 17 years her junior. "I have great results here, but I'll take it a bit more modestly and see how my matches go". As for the men's draw I am going to give Juan Martin del Potro the 'dark horse' label. You can get your art fix at the Groeningemuseum, known for featuring classical painters. The other match took place in 2006.

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He withdrew from a warm-up tournament in Abu Dhabi and last week's Brisbane International and had been concerned with his match fitness.

It was naturally a welcome news to Australian Open director Craig Tiley. The fifth set was maybe the best set I ever played.

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Wozniacki's path appears relatively clear, though she could face seventh-seeded Jelena Ostapenko or 10th-seeded CoCo Vandeweghe in the quarterfinals.

"Exactly two years ago, 2016 Australian Open was when the problem with the elbow started", Djokovic said. Jimmy Connors, who won eight majors, played the US Open 21 times and the Down Under Slam just twice (he did win a title there). The sight of a rejuvenated Federer, probably the greatest offensive player tennis has seen, taking on Djokovic, the most outstanding defender the game has had, in the opening Grand Slam, is enticing.

As the sport wrestles with appealing to younger sports fans, quicker formats at both exhibitions and tournaments are on the rise. It's just that there is no one dominating, but it's up to them.

The tournament launched Djokovic's tenure in the big time when he bagged his first major in Melbourne, in 2008.

The van Eyck brothers' Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, a Flemish Primitive altarpiece, represents a milestone in art history, and is the pride of the port city Ghent. "I only like to see the draw sheet and see who my first round opponent is".

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