Returning Djokovic still managing elbow injury

Lester Mason
January 13, 2018

Roger Federer has been termed the early favourite going into Melbourne following his exploits a year ago, where he defeated Nadal in the finals in a five-set thriller.

No such worries for Federer though. Even before the first match, the Open courted at least two controversies - by allowing former champion Maria Sharapova (2009) to conduct the draw less than two years since she tested positive for a banned substance and former great Billy Jean King saying the Margaret Court Arena should be renamed because of the 11-time champion's "derogatory" views on sexuality.

Stephens agrees the Australian Open field is still extremely tough, even with Serena Williams, the defending champion and 23-time major victor, skipping the tournament as she continues her recovery from a complicated childbirth in September. "But when he's on, he's really hard to beat". He will open the defence of his title against Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene. "I am not the one to say, but somebody has to look about what's going on", he said.

Top seed Rafael Nadal starts the Australian Open next week for the first time in his career without playing a warm-up tournament, and no uncle Toni by his side.

The pair split the four grand slam trophies between them a year ago, with Nadal, at 31, finishing the season as the ATP rankings' oldest world number one.

"He won a couple more Grand Slams". Yet he is unfazed and raring to go. "The correction and improvements to the service are allowing me to be more efficient and spend less energy", he said.

Federer, who is five years older, said: 'I think Rafa, in a way, is still in his prime. "But right now it's at the level where I can compete, and every day is getting better", he said.

"But everyone starts from zero. I start from zero again", he said.

The last time Federer held the top spot in the world rankings was in 2012, the year he captured his seventh Wimbledon Championships and a silver medal in the London Olympics.

"I do feel young inside, you know".

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

"In terms of professional things, I spoke to him few days ago, speaking about how the life going, how the tennis going", he said of Toni.

Djokovic will wear a sleeve on his right arm to forestall any reoccurrence of the elbow injury that has plagued him since Wimbledon 2017. He said it got to the point where the pain on his serve was becoming unbearable.

"It hasn't been 100 percent yet healed".

"I just thought that the game and the wins weren't going to come ... because I would just run into a red-hot Djokovic or Murray or Nadal or somebody and my game wasn't going to be good enough", Federer recalled.

"However, if the elbow lasts, I still know what I'm capable of, and I believe in my own abilities to win against the best players in the world", Djokovic, who will face American Donald Young, added.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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