"I'm improving. It's been a long time now, six months, so it's tough to be at that level". It never fails to serve up surprising storylines and 2018 promises to be no different. Novak Djokovic has the most men's titles since 1969, with six wins.
Federer, seeded second, arrives for a first round match against mid-ranked Slovenian Aljaz Bedene after cruising through an undefeated run at the Hopman Cup.
Wawrinka has been battling a knee injury and has not played since he was knocked out in the first round of Wimbledon last year, and the Swiss was one of the major question marks heading into the Jan. 15-28 Australian Open. If they are fully fit, Djokovic and Wawrinka only add further competition and excitement to a packed field. "The people love the sport, love the tennis so I always enjoy to share that with them".
Moreover, it would be only the second time he would win Australian Open in two consecutive years.
It was a blast from the past when Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal took centre stage at the Australian Open last year. At the Australian Open, the Romanian is the top seed at a Slam for the first time in her career.
The waiting is almost over for tennis fans. Garbine Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova both have 8/1 odds. French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko is seeded No. 7 and U.S. Open winner Sloane Stephens is No. 13. But their mutual absences in Melbourne do not remove Court from the conversation in Melbourne.
Djokovic, who was wearing a compression sleeve on his right arm, did, though, admit: "I'm very happy with the way it went today but I don't want to say it's 100%, I'll say that when I start a tournament and I actually feel that it is 100%".
Will the real Next Gen please stand up?
The 29-year-old has continued 2018 where he left off with a 21st career title looming at this week's ASB Classic in Auckland and he will return to the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings for the first time since August 2014 when he gears himself up for a first-round test against the hugely-talented American Frances Tiafoe. Some players can beat themselves, as they struggle to trust their own bodies.
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.
When is the Australian Open?
But he has been sidelined for close to six months after deciding to have surgery following Wimbledon in July.
In the women's field, there is a slew of young stars eager to snatch the baton.
Can Rafael Nadal challenge in Melbourne?
The 2008 champion and current world No. 47 kicks off her campaign against a player ranked one place higher, Germany's Tatjana Maria.
Ashleigh Barty has lobbed in a difficult section, starting with Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka.
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