AUSTRALIA OPEN: Federer drawn against Bedene, Nadal meets Burgos

AUSTRALIA OPEN: Federer drawn against Bedene, Nadal meets Burgos

"We were training really hard, the off-season was really good and I want to show this season that I did some improvements and we will see in my game, time will show", Rublev insisted.

Federer, who was interviewed on court prior to the draw being revealed, should enjoy a routine first week as he begins his title defense. He also has No. 7-ranked David Goffin, Juan Martin del Potro, Sam Querrey, and Canada's Milos Raonic in his quarter.

As Novak Djokovic tossed the ball in the air on Wednesday to hit his first serve in his first match for six months, he revealed a ploy which he hopes will revitalise and prolong his career.

Nadal's first official match is scheduled to take place at the Australian Open, following his withdrawal from the Brisbane International tournament and from an exhibition held in Abu Dhabi.

Djokovic, 30, is seeded 14th for this year's grand slam tournament in Melbourne - a reflection of his slide down the rankings following six months out with an elbow injury.

Stan Wawrinka is hungry to return to action.

Defending champion Roger Federer could then await in the semi-finals before a potential showdown with world No 1 Rafael Nadal in the final.

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He beat Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets in the second round of the 2017 US Open.

In Thursday's draw, 36-year-old Federer, bidding for a record 20th Grand Slam title, has a first round encounter with the 51st-ranked Bedene.

Meanwhile, 2017 Australian Open champion Serena Williams opted out of the competition, saying that her preparations had fallen just short of what she needed to be competitive 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.

Women's top seed Simona Halep of Romania faces Australian wildcard Destanee Aiava in the first round, with second seed Caroline Wozniacki starting out against Halep's compatriot Mihaela Buzarnescu.

"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".

Nadal, 31, became the oldest player to end the year as world No 1, although the stresses and strain on his body finally took their toll when he had to pull out of the ATP World Tour Finals in November after losing his opening-round match.

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