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Rafael Nadal discusses question on his toughest opponent at the Australian Open

14 January 2018, 09:10 | Joan Schultz

Rafael Nadal discusses question on his toughest opponent at the Australian Open

Johanna Konta of Britain reacts during a news conference ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament. REUTERS  Thomas Peter

World No 11 Kevin Anderson, who had one of his best seasons last year, beat world No 49 Kyle Edmund in the third round of last year's French Open.

He won all four of his matches against Nadal, but in his 37th year would be the last to take his fitness for granted.

The Serb is set to return to the court after six months away after being forced to retire during his Wimbledon quarter-final against Tomas Berdych.

Federer ended a five-year wait for an 18th major title at Melbourne Park last year, beating old foe Rafael Nadal in an epic final.

Djokovic, a surprise second-round loser here previous year, is hoping he can get fit enough to change that in 2018. Is a new situation for me, but I feel good.

"In terms of professional things, I spoke to him few days ago, speaking about how the life going, how the tennis going", he said of Toni.

"That's my feeling. We chose to play another match".

In Melbourne, Nadal is at his first major tournament in years without his uncle Toni, who coached him from childhood until after his US Open win last year.

Djokovic, who wouldn't give any details about precisely what the elbow injury was, wouldn't say whether he had any injections to speed up the healing process in time for Australia. In all fairness, they grew up not just watching, but also playing one of the most daunting generations in the history of the sport.

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Now it's a less dramatic, more compact swing and he was happy with how it worked in an exhibition win over Thiem earlier in the week. "Even though the service motion comparing to the old one, it's not entirely different, but at the beginning even those small tweaks and changes have made a lot of difference mentally". I want to kind of ride the highs, not as high as I usually do.

In fact, he's never managed to win a major without an official warm-up match under his belt in the lead-up.

But the father-of-four said at his age and in his 19th Australian Open, he liked to play down his chances.

Where once it held the possibility, if not the plausibility, of regathering Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stanislas Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori from all their various hiatuses, it will boast half those six, lacking Williams, Murray and Nishikori because of a blessing, a hip and a wrist.

But while others have a troubled buildup to the year's opening Grand Slam, Federer is enjoying an unruffled lead in to the Open and is at peace with the world. "But I feel good".

"I've showed on multiple occasions over the year that I can play and beat the best guys in the world", Zverev said.

"So hopefully I can improve that".

Nadal was naturally rusty after his extended break but he looked free from his notorious knee problems and is by no means alone in heading to the Australian Open after injury troubles. "I feel relaxed. Obviously winning a tournament before you play a Grand Slam always helps".



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