Australian Open 2018: Federer favourite?

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Djokovic and Federer must navigate past Juan Martin del Potro, David Goffin, Mischa Zverev and Alexander Zverev in their half of the draw. "I don't like usually going to draws because they freak me out". The hard-server from Thornhill, Ont., is a former world No. 3 but has seen his ranking slip after an injury-plagued 2017.

The recurrence of pain in his elbow at the end of last month, which forced him to pull out of the Qatar Open, was a considerable blow, and he is taking a cautious approach to his preparations.

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

Now, under new rules by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), any Grand Slam player who withdraws after 1200 local time yesterday before the tournament draw will still receive 50 percent of first round prize money.

Dan Evans, who reached the fourth round here past year, is still serving a ban after his positive cocaine test, while Aljaz Bedene - who will play an eye-catching first-round match here against defending champion Roger Federer - has switched his nationality back to his native Slovenia. He delayed his return until two exhibition appearances this week.

Nadal's half notably includes Marin Cilic, Nick Kyrgios, Jack Sock and Grigor Dimitrov.

Halep, the top seed for the women (and who has yet to win a Grand Slam title) will open against Destanee Aiava.

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"For the first time I have to play here at the Australian [Open] for the first tournament of the year".

Serena Williams has opted not to defend her title four months after giving birth to her first child, leaving the women's draw open.

British number one Johanna Konta, seeded ninth for the first grand slam of the year, will take on Madison Brengle of the U.S. while last year's runner up Venus Williams has been drawn against Belinda Bencic of Switzerland.

Now ranked No47, she could face the 14th seed Anastasija Sevastova in the second round, Angelique Kerber - the 2016 champion - in the third round and, potentially, Garbine Muguruza, the Wimbledon champion, in the fourth round.

Serena Williams will not defend the women's title having had her first child past year but 2008 champion Maria Sharapova, who failed a drugs test at the tournament in 2016, is back unseeded after a ban and will face Germany's Tatjana Maria.

Organizers defended the decision to invite Sharapova to appear as the representative for the women's draw, with tournament director Craig Tiley saying the sanction was over and the 30-year-old Russian was there as a former champion.