She was denied the chance to return to her home grand slam last year when she snapped two ligaments in her ankle. He won 70 of his 76 matches and even went 41 matches without a defeat. "Tennis is full of variables every single week: temperature, humidity, racket tension, balls, court surface, court speed, and then because the sport is so much more physical, you have to train harder".
However, the seven-times Grand Slam champion survived the Kerber onslaught and with her confidence restored, took the first set.
Edmund tried to do just that last year at Roland Garros but the big South African simply would not let him; Anderson won in five sets. I expect Serena to match, and then surpass, the achievements of Margaret Court, winner of twenty-four Grand Slam titles.
Nadal opens against Victor Estrella-Burgos, of the Dominican Republic. His opponents in finals were on average ranked 5.75. Six players could achieve No. 1 status by winning the Australian Open.
Federer, even at 36, is the rightful Australian Open favorite after appearing fresh and sharp in the Hopman Cup team event. Nadal captured this best when he remarked just last month that Djokovic had reached a higher level than Federer.
Grigor Dimitrov is intent on seizing the moment and ushering in a new era of men's tennis as he heads the queue of unfulfilled talents chasing Australian Open glory at Melbourne Park. He triggered improvements in others too.
The Bulgarian came agonisingly close to beating Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals in Melbourne when he went down in a five-set humdinger, but finished the season ranked third after winning the biggest title of his career at the ATP Finals in London.
And when Djokovic made grass - a surface which Andre Agassi called "ice slathered with Vaseline" - feel like clay, leaving not a single blade uncovered, Federer was left with no choice but to shore up his defence.
Looking ahead to Monday's Open where he chases a record seventh crown, Djokovic has cast an eye to familiar foes Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. But so did Federer. Kerber is one of the hottest players on tour right now. So is Djokovic's match-up against World No. 1 Nadal.
"They have inspired me to look deeper, to dip deeper inside myself, to understand what it takes to dethrone these guys".
The final category is the young players to watch. The seeding for the January Slam was announced on Wednesday (11th January) by the authorities that be.
"I think it's normal because there's a lot of expectations this year", he was quoted as saying by the Australian Open website. It is also perhaps the only place to offer Djokovic unconditional love.
Federer says his three-year-old sons Leo and Lenny "seem very interested" in tennis and that his eight-year-old daughters Myla Rose and Charlene Riva, also identical twins, think his friends in the locker-room like countryman Stan Wawrinka are all part of the family. Exciting crossovers between the two aren't uncommon - one can leave behind their mark (or better still a mural) at the Graffiti Street.
"Of course well deserved for him". But will his creaky knees hold up for two full weeks? The question is, how fit and healthy is Djokovic?
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