Major time in Melbourne: Australian Open starts Monday

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After London I had to stop for a while and then I start working step by step. The Spaniard started his career, wearing a sleeveless shirt, annihilating one and all who stood between him and glory. Last year's edition titlist #Roger Federer leads an extremely interesting side of the draw while the current world No. 1 and 2017 runner-up #Rafael Nadal seems to have picked an easier route on the other side.

Whether a lack of match play will come back to bite him or not is anyone's guess, but he is doing his best to address the issues.

Six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic says he's excited to be back after a long injury-enforced break, admitting he has missed the "fire and passion" of competitive tennis.

"I think you have to kind of put everything in perspective, evaluate where you are", she said.

He added that he did not know whether he would be able to compete at the highest level. I am happy to be here and happy to be on court again.

"I'm not at 100 per cent, but you never know in a week's time what's going to be happening. But now is the moment, for me personally, to play tennis".

Federer found himself in a slightly awkward position after the Australian Open draw on Thursday at Margaret Court Arena.

Sock, who broke into the top 10 thanks to a brilliant end to last season, was beaten 6-1 7-6 (7/4) 5-7 6-3 by Yuichi Sugita of Japan while 16th seed Isner lost 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-3 to Australian Matt Ebden.

"I think nothing very drastic, but at the same time it's small improvements all the time". Nadal crushed in his opening round victory and showed no signs of being banged up, which was the only real concern for him entering this tournament.

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Victory for Venus would see her eclipse Ken Rosewall as the oldest player to win a Major.

"I've played thousands of matches in my life and I'm sure I've gotten lucky throughout my career".

Simona Halep, the top-seeded woman, will start her quest for a first Grand Slam title when she plays teenage wildcard entry Destanee Aiava.

The first Grand Slam of the year serves off in Melbourne on January 15 and the most profound questions to be answered would be whether the young guns could overhaul the "dinosaurs" in both the men and women's draws and whether injury would play a part in who emerges the men and women's champions.

Sloane Stephens, who made a stellar run to the U.S. Open title previous year, agrees the Australian field is still extremely tough without Williams, a 23-time major victor.

Wimbledon champion and world number three Garbine Muguruza is battling injury problems which could further aid Halep's hopes.

What time does the Australian Open begin?

Djokovic had a contrasting 2017, starting at number two but losing in a second-round upset at the Australian Open and not playing again after Wimbledon.

She lost to Germany's Julia Gorges in the Auckland Classic final last week, but said the rain-disrupted tournament had been tough, ideal preparation. "I have one more goal: to win a Grand Slam".

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