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Federer faces Bedene first up in Australian Open

13 January 2018

Simona Halep arrives as world number one but is yet to win a grand slam title, having fallen agonisingly short at the French Open past year when she was ambushed by the ferocious hitting of Latvian Jelena Ostapenko.

The Russian captured his first ATP title past year and reached the US Open quarter-finals - where he couldn't pull off a major upset and beat eventual champion Rafael Nadal.

A few minutes later when the formalities were completed, Federer found out how hard defending his title could be after landing in the same half as six-time champion Novak Djokovic.

On the women's side, Serena Williams is not defending her title as she regains her fitness after childbirth, leaving the family interests in the hands of defending finalist Venus Williams.

A six-time Australian Open champion, Djokovic wore a compression sleeve on his troublesome right elbow in his long-awaited return to the tennis court on Wednesday.

Djokovic and Federer must navigate past Juan Martin del Potro, David Goffin, Mischa Zverev and Alexander Zverev in their half of the draw.

Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 victor, meets Ricardas Berankis, while fourth seed Alexander Zverev has been drawn against Thomas Fabbiano.

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Players will also be able to claim 50 percent of their prize money if they pull out before their first match, an incentive created to allow a replacement to play instead. He is seeking consecutive major wins for the first time since winning the French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open in 2010.

Williams could face Ukraine's fourth seed Elina Svitolina in the quarter-finals.

While pleased at his progress, Djokovic, who has dropped to 14 in the world, admitted he still had work to do ahead of the opening Grand Slam of the year.

"Wawrinka is the flawless player for a major", Wilander said.

A rematch of last year's Australian Open semifinal with 2017's strongest finisher, Grigor Dimitrov, is on the cards.

Any repeat this year and he would lose the lot. Chris Kermode, executive chairman of the men's tour, the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), promised a shake-up, although he accepted the players' reasons for withdrawing. "When you combine all of those ingredients with the massive talent that is Roger Federer, you get 19 majors and a career that is just incredible".

In a separate rule change created to get matches started more quickly, warm-up times will be strictly enforced. New rules reverting Grand Slams to 16 seeds from the current 32 are due to come into force in 2019.

Federer faces Bedene first up in Australian Open