Rafael Nadal, Simona Halep announced top seeds for Australian Open

Karolina Pliskova

Karolina Pliskova reached the Australian Open quarter-finals in 2017

Players could forfeit their prize money if they retire from first-round singles matches at the Australian Open, under new rules aimed at limiting the early injury withdrawals which have long caused controversy at Grand Slams. It was the first year since 2009 that Djokovic didn't reach at least one Grand Slam final.

Injury and illness stalled her initial return to the circuit but a Tianjin Open win in October and run to the Shenzhen Open semi-finals suggests the five-time major victor is nearing her best and the 2008 champion will expect to go deep in Melbourne. I've watched him practise.

Nadal's biggest challenge, and that of compatriot Moya, will be to beat tournament favourite and world number two Federer after losing all his four matches against the Swiss last season.

"It was our last big family vacation, if you will, with my sister and my parents before I left home and went to the national tennis centre in Switzerland ... we had a attractive vacation, we went to the Great Barrier Reef and went to Heron Island".

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"It was a fantastic test for me to see where I am, to see what we have done as a team and whether it works on the court and it works pretty well".

Kyrgios will have his supporters, especially in Australia, after beating Dimitrov on the way to winning his fourth ATP Tour title and first at home in the lead-up Brisbane International.

Nadal has been battling a right knee problem since November while his Serbian rival spent four-and-a-half months not practising after elbow surgery previous year.

"I knew that I can not make it with only Futures so I had to step up my game and try to compete at a higher level", explains Maamoun.

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Roger Federer will open his title defence against Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene and has a potential quarter-final with David Goffin in the Australian Open. "But I don't want to say it's 100 per cent". The previous year I was playing only Futures, now I'm playing this year a Grand Slam and I'm really focusing on Challengers, so it's a very big progress for me and I'm happy about it.

"I was going for my shots, but missing a bit today".

World No. 1 and tournament top seed Nadal, who lost to Federer at last year's Australian Open final, trails him at A$5.50. "I'm excited about it and I've got a few days to practice".

"I played better than I thought might happen [on Wednesday] and most importantly I played without pain". "It's not always the best when you are an athlete so I'm looking forward to it, enjoying the crowd". We will have to wait and see how ready he is to compete on the grand slam level once the tournament starts.

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