Can Federer do it again — Australian Open preview

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Federer's defeat of Nadal last year was his 18th major triumph of a glittering career.

This actually could be a bit of a statistical exaggeration because a player's rise is gradual and steady and not a series of ups and downs.

The list of absentees including the likes of current Australian Open champion Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and three-time Grand Slam winner Andy Murray caused tennis fans all over to let out a huge sigh of disappointment.

The draw has been made, the players are ready and the 2018 Australian Open is about to begin with the first Grand Slam of the year getting underway on Monday.

Australian hopes will rest largely on the shoulders of 17th seed Nick Kyrgios, who won the Brisbane International on Sunday but has struggled with his temperament and openly admitted to lacking dedication in recent years. But, I doubt he can put together the seven match wins required to claim his first Grand Slam title. "Last year was an amazing final and it's great to be back", he said. He's hitting the ball brilliantly. Federer is seeded No. 2 as he bids for a 20th Grand Slam singles title.

Goffin enjoyed a strong finish to 2017, reaching the decider of the ATP Finals and the Davis Cup final with Belgium.

"So I try to see it always from the bright side and take things from that way". Will Rafael Nadal continue to turn back the clock? His opponents in finals were on average ranked 5.75. Cycle among the castles, the museums and the churches, and then through the tranquil countryside for a wholesome Flemish experience. Given the multiple occasions on which the Argentine's body has failed him, he deserves another US Open title to go with his 2009 triumph in Flushing Meadows.

Federer once again anchors the last quarter. Nadal captured this best when he remarked just last month that Djokovic had reached a higher level than Federer. He triggered improvements in others too. Would the long-awaited Federer vs. Nadal revival at last year's Australian Open final been as memorable in three sets?

In his first appearance in six months, Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic on Wednesday defeated Austria's Dominic Thiem 6-1, 6-4 at the Kooyong Classic exhibition here. His possible path could see him face Zverev in the fourth round, Stan Wawrinka, Thiem or Roberto Bautista Agut in the quarters, before a mouth-watering prospect that is a semi-final against Federer.

"Unbelievable. In my vision, I never had this, that I was going to be playing tennis with four kids". But so did Federer.

"But I'm not the only one". Additional watch-ability, for one.

The majority of the BBC's coverage is on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra. So is Djokovic's match-up against World No. 1 Nadal. I'll sleep, eat and train and not do too much. This has also resulted in injuries to top players and this years Aus open is an example.

There is also the Plexicushion court to consider, which, in spite of repeated denials by the authorities, looked faster than ever last year. However, while my head may be saying that Muguruza will be emerge victorious come the end of January, I have a feeling that Johanna Konta will become Britain's first female grand slam champion since Virginia Wade in 1977.

The 20-year-old Zverev might have a tough task at hand.

Melbourne is familiar territory and a fully-fit Djokovic is near-invincible here.