Australian Open Expert Picks: The Men

Australian Open Expert Picks: The Men

Australian Open Expert Picks: The Men

Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza and world No. 6 Karolina Pliskova are joint favorites at $8 to lift the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup for the first time. "I don't like usually going to draws because they freak me out".

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.Julian Finney/Getty Images. The fifth set (of the final) was maybe the best set I ever played.

Nadal's only triumph at the Australian Open came in 2009 when he beat Federer in five sets to win the competition for the first time. But by playing this match he has been able to make himself a contender for the upcoming Australian Open. Federer could face Juan Martin del Potro, who beat the Swiss in Flushing Meadows past year, in the quarterfinals-though, according to seeding, Federer is projected to face David Goffin.

An unlikely victor at Melbourne Park in 2017 before going on to capture Wimbledon, the evergreen 36-year-old - who enjoyed a renaissance last season having been struck down by injuries in 2016 - is trusting his tried and tested preparation, having featured at the Hopman Cup in Perth just like he did last year.

Six-time Australian Open champion Djokovic pulled out of events in Abu Dhabi and Doha with elbow soreness before heading to Melbourne, and hasn't hit a ball in anger since the problem forced him to quit Wimbledon in the quarterfinals in July. Her sister, Venus, who lost to Serena in the 2017 final, opens her tournament against Belinda Bencic of Switzerland.

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There may be no Andy Murray, but the men's tournament will have no shortage of returning stars who will all be aiming to start 2018 by claiming the Australian Open title. Some of tennis's most famous names have yet to prove their fitness for Monday's Australian Open, although Novak Djokovic - the six-time champion here - did at least end a six-month absence on Wednesday by participating in a couple of friendlies.

"There's no easy way to get to the top", Sharapova told the crowd at Margaret Court Arena before the draw. His poor performances explain why he is only third favourite to win a tournament that he has dominated. If I got to play the way I did yesterday against the number five in the world.

"The drive, I still have it".

"I'm not 100 per cent fit physically yet but that's normal. I don't think there's anybody else that you could say is a favourite other than Roger at the moment".

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