Federer still the man to beat at Melbourne Park

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – It could be argued that 36-Yr-previous fathers of 4 don’t have any business profitable grand slam titles but are trying telling that to Roger Federer because the evergreen Swiss bids to say a document-equalling sixth Australian Open crown in two weeks’ time.

Federer will saddle up for a 19th time in the principle draw at Melbourne Park, having a look to frustrate ‘Technology Subsequent’ once once more and protect the title he received final Yr all the way through a shocking comeback from knee surgery.

No such queries hold over his fitness this 12 Months and if bookmakers are to be believed the opposite 127 males within the draw might be preventing for the scraps from Federer’s plate.

On instant kind, few could argue.

Federer, seeded 2nd, arrives for a primary round healthy towards mid-ranked Slovenian Aljaz Bedene after cruising through an undefeated run on the Hopman Cup.

His major rivals, in the meantime, are both carrying accidents or returning from them, or within the case of ‘Large 4’ cohort Andy Murray, ruled out on account of them.

A magical 20th slam might seem a formality for a player who did it all in final Year’s match with the shortest of run-ups, however on nearer inspection, Federer’s course during the draw is some distance from straightforward.

Risk lurks at almost each nook, with former Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic and a resurgent Juan Martin Del Potro, the person who beat Federer for the 2009 U.S. Open title, looming as threats ahead of the quarter-finals.

Yet few would be surprised if the tournament ends in a repeat of final Yr’s Closing with Federer up in opposition to his great Spanish rival and top seed Rafa Nadal.

The pair break up the Four grand slam trophies between them remaining Year, with Nadal, at 31, finishing the season because the ATP rankings’ oldest world number one.

MATCH AND FIRING

Like Federer, Nadal has pared again his taking part in schedule to extend his occupation however the pressure still confirmed when he pulled out of the ATP Tour Finals in November with a knee drawback after shedding his opening healthy.

He neglected warmup occasions in Abu Dhabi and Brisbane however regarded untroubled in an exhibition fit win over Austrian world number 5 Dominic Thiem at Melbourne Park on Friday.

If FIT and firing, 2009 champion Nadal will likely be arduous to beat but must carry one thing new to the court docket if he ends up going through Federer, who won all 4 of their suits remaining Yr.

The Melbourne crowds will throw their give a boost to in the back of the two grand slam titans however the youthful Technology of gamers almost certainly wish they’d simply go away.

Year after 12 Months the intense sparks and ‘Next Big Things’ were denied via the ‘Giant Four’ on the slams.

Even with Murray and Novak Djokovic out of the frame for a lot of 2017 as a result of harm, ‘Gen Subsequent’ once once more didn’t make inroads on the 4 tournaments that really rely.

Most bookmakers see third seed Grigor Dimitrov as the most effective chance amongst them to make a leap forward in Melbourne, however nonetheless rate the Bulgarian decrease than Djokovic, who brings a big question over his serving elbow, is seeded 14th and has barely swung a racquet in six months.

While Melbourne Park maestro Djokovic will bid for a file seventh Australian Open title, these fanatics hoping for a shake-up of the establishment may just look to 20-Year-previous Alexander Zverev after his stellar 2017.

Like 22-Year-old Australian Nick Kyrgios, fourth seed Zverev possesses an imposing game able to toppling the very best but additionally has a propensity to collapse on the largest ranges.

Grand slam success is seen as a topic of when, not if, for Zverev but the ageless Federer stands able to thwart another adolescence-led insurrection.

Modifying through Peter Rutherford

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