Rusty Nadal struggles in loss to Gasquet in exhibition match

Wawrinka ready for Australian Open

Djokovic, returning from injury, has his work cut out for him Down Under.

A knee injury which has prevented Nadal from playing competitively since losing to David Goffin at the ATP Finals in November has restricted the 16-time major champion to just a pair of exhibition contests in Melbourne - a far cry from his run to the quarter-finals at the Brisbane International a year ago. Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic both struggled with form and injuries in 2017 and didn't play a competitive match after Wimbledon. "I'm pretty good, a bit exhausted, I worked hard while I've been in Australia which is why I arrived pretty early here, so I can't wait to start this tournament", Pouille said.

Giorgi, belying her ranking of 100th in the world, beat US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the first round and then ousted twice Wimbledon and former Sydney champion Petra Kvitova. Dimitrov managed to reach the semi-finals at Melbourne in 2017 and World No 5 Dominic Thiem has made the last-four twice on clay at Roland Garros.

Should Djokovic come through that, he could face France's former world No 6 Gael Monfils, who enters the Australian Open as the recently-crowned Qatar Open champion - a tournament Djokovic has twice won but opted to miss this year to continue his recovery.

The last time a Grand Slam champion took a six-month absence due to injury they went on to win the Australian Open, and Djokovic will look to take a leaf out of Federer's book when taking part in his first major tournament since Wimbledon.

Nadal's first round opponent is Dominican Victor Estrella Burgos, Federer will start his title defence against Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene while women's second seed Wozniacki drew Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu.

Wawrinka ready for Australian Open
Rusty Nadal struggles in loss to Gasquet in exhibition match

19-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer is placed as second seed while Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov and Germany's Alexander Zverev have been named third and fourth seed, respectively, the Daily Express reported. Federer could face seventh-seeded David Goffin or 12th-seeded Juan Martin del Potro in the quarter-finals. "It would be ideal if I got another tournament under my belt before the Australian Open but my elbow wasn't ready but I'm going to take whatever I can", he said.

Halep, who has been beaten in the first round four times in Melbourne, must first overcome Aiava if she is to realise her dream of going on to win a first Grand Slam title.

Zverev, 20, won five tournaments a year ago, including Masters 1000 events in Rome and Montreal, to announce himself as a force to be reckoned with.

It was Nadal's fifth tiebreak in three days at the venue, after he headlined the Tiebreak Tens event on Wednesday night.

"It was a great test for me to see where I am, to see how I feel, to hear the score being called and feel the pressure of break points".

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