Nadal, Federer get top seeds at Australian Open

ATP Rotterdam contacted Fab Four but none of them committed

ATP Rotterdam contacted Fab Four but none of them committed

World No.1 Nadal opens against Victor Estrella Burgos, while defending champion and second seed Federer plays Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene in the first round.

Federer's four victories last year over his old foe also means he has won five matches in a row against Nadal for the first time in his career.

After defending champion Serena Williams withdrew from the event due to her extended recovery period of becoming a mother, her elder sister and last year's runner up Venus Williams will be the overwhelming favourite for the title.

The Australian Open, the first grand slam of the 2018 season, starts Monday with everyone wondering if Roger Federer can repeat his remarkable victory 12 months ago.

But with Murray out until the summer, perhaps this will be the year of the newcomer.

"I'd never skipped a grand slam, so it was strange". The Swiss, who underwent knee surgery in the wake of his Wimbledon exit, pulled out of an exhibition event yesterday.

"I don't usually like going to draws, I just want to see the sheet".

He seems to be the biggest hurdle for Djokovic as the two have been drawn in the same quarter. Injuries, withdrawals, late starts to the seasons, have clouded the first two weeks of the season even as the wounded warriors from last season return to the circuit after months away.

"You see how physical it is on the court, and then you see the traveling and the challenge of our sport versus others in terms of time zone changes and the variables in conditions", said Justin Gimelstob, an ATP board member and former player and coach.

With the Australian Open in January and the Paris Masters and World Tour Finals ending in November, it is a marathon for the elite - an ultramarathon if they play in the Davis Cup final, too. "I'll be fine for the Open".

"This is not normal", Federer told a crowd of hundreds of fans before the draw on Thursday at Margaret Court Arena.

A lacklustre Thiem lost the first set to a rampant Djokovic before improving in second for a 6-1 6-4 scoreline.

He could have to beat his brother Mischa, six-time champion Djokovic and then 2014 winner Wawrinka if he is even to reach the last four, where a semi-final against reigning champion Federer could await.

Indeed, many Aussie supporters may not have been alive to witness the last occasion.

The projected men's quarterfinals include Rafael Nadal vs. Marin Cilic, Grigor Dimitrov vs. Jack Sock, Dominic Thiem vs. Alexander Zverev and David Goffin vs. Roger Federer.

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