Australian Open 2018: What the players are saying

Grigor Dimitrov

After last year's inspirational five-set victory against Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final, tennis great Roger Federer looked cool, calm and confident when he addressed the media on Sunday, just one day before the 2018 tournament gets underway. It was a great preparation previous year.

"Whenever I get asked that question, it always comes across in really kind of an nearly negative way instead of acknowledging how many great players we have", Johanna Konta, who reached the Wimbledon semifinals previous year, said Saturday.

Wawrinka, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have 31 Grand Slam titles between them but have not played an official match in the lead-in to the event, with Wawrinka and Djokovic not having hit a ball in anger since Wimbledon. "I think attacking tennis also has a lot of wear and tear on the body", he said. The bookies fancy his chances and so does everyone else who has surveyed the draw. Nadal is coming into the tournament after suffering a knee injury in later stages of 2017. "All the five-setters, as well", he said.

"I mean, Roger and Rafa's year last year has shown age is just a number, especially in Roger's case", Djokovic said Saturday in his pre-tournament news conference. "My coach and team always said, 'Only go to tournaments when you are prepared to go all the way.' I can compete - but I don't want to just compete, I want to do far better than that and to do so, I will need a little more time".

Serena Williams beat her older sister Venus Williams in the final to capture an Open era-record 23rd major here a year ago but decided against defending her title because she didn't have enough time to recover from health issues after a complicated childbirth in September.

"My focus needs to be early because I have my own problems, you know, to get through my section of the draw, my game".

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Federer will be up against Aljaz Bedene in the first round on Tuesday.

The Swiss breezed through his media duties on Sunday with the same swagger he will take on court against Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene on Tuesday, when he kicks off the defence of the title he won against great rival Rafael Nadal previous year. She reached the at least the last eight in both of her Australian Open appearances to date, but slumped out of the Sydney International in the first round and faces a tricky opener against competitive American Madison Brengle.

"It's nice that one year later I am (No) two in the world and seeded highly", he said. A Raonic-Del Potro-Djokovic/Zverev-Nadal run might be even steeper than the one he overcame previous year, but Federer too is even more in his zone than he was 12 months ago.

Wawrinka, the 2014 victor, who was out of tennis for six months, a left knee injury that went under the knife, says, getting off the blocks in the opening Grand Slam of the year, is in itself a "big victory".

"He is a very young 36 and you just marvel at the greatness of such an icon". During all these years, I was very happy to keep playing tennis. "But I feel good". Kyrgios, who made the Australian Open quarter-finals in 2015, will begin his 2018 campaign against Brazil's Rogerio Dutra Silva. Kyrgios, ranked No. 17, won that event in Brisbane and told reporters, "Right now it's all about recovering and feeling the ball for the Oz Open, because obviously I'm playing well under pressure and in high-pressure situations".

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