January 12, 2018
When Roger Federer defends his Australian Open title, he will bid to become only the fourth player of all time to win twenty or more Grand Slam singles crowns.
The other three are all women – Margaret Court (24), Serena Williams (23), and Steffi Graf (22).
But Roger’s fellow finalist from last year, Rafael Nadal, will be out to stop him. Rafa is aiming to become the first player in the open era – and only the third in history – to win a Career Slam twice.
Yes, Nadal will have won every Grand Slam event for at least a second time if he can add the Australian Open to his list. He would emulate Aussie legends Roy Emerson and Rod Laver in the process.
The draw throws us some tantalising scenarios. Novak Djokovic, back at last from injury, could come up against the flamboyant and enigmatic Gael Monfils in the second round.
Federer, who plays his opener against former Brit Aljaz Bedene, might play Milos Raonic in the fourth round and then David Goffin, his conqueror in the ATP Tour Finals at the O2 Arena, in the quarter-final.
Although the veteran Victor Estrella Burgos shouldn’t give Nadal too much trouble first time out, there are the likes of Grigor Dimitrov and Nick Kyrgios lurking in his half of the draw. But one of that latter pairing will be eliminated from the Australian Open if they clash in the fourth round as anticipated.
The return of Maria Sharapova to the Melbourne big-time is further spiced by her possible third-round clash with former world number one Angelique Kerber.
Meanwhile, if British favourite Jo Konta goes one further and reaches the fourth, she could be up against the number six seed, Karolina Pliskova.
Meanwhile, in the absence of Andy Murray, Kyle Edmund carries British hopes at the Australian Open. He opens with a tough one against Kevin Anderson.
It was Anderson, the US Open finalist, who beat Edmund in five sets at Roland Garros.
All in all the Australian Open is a mouth-watering prospect, with the possibility of more history in the making.
Will Djokovic make us regret having written him off for so long?
Or will Federer and Nadal shine once more, to start 2018’s Grand Slam year in spectacular style?
Can Sharapova silence her critics with a sensational return to the very top of the game? Or will Simona Halep taste glory at last?
We can’t wait for the Australian Open to get started.
How about you?