Evergreen Federer is clear Australian Open favourite

Australian Open 2018 tips include Roger Federer and Jack Sock

GETTYExpress Sport's Australian Open 2018 tips include Roger Federer and Jack Sock

When asked if he will play in the Grand Slam that starts next week, he added: "For now, I'm in the tournament". With its unique position at the start of the tennis calendar, there's plenty of intrigue surrounding the Australian Open.

"The fifth set was maybe the best set I ever played". He had an exceptional 2017, winning seven titles, including two Slams - the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

Who is playing where ahead of the Australian Open?

All eyes will be on fourth seed Alexander Zverev after the 20-year-old German's remarkable run (five titles, including two Masters 1000 crowns) in 2017. Luckily for me Im here and so Im hoping in the next four, five days everything will go well and Ill be ready for the Open.”.

Whether or not she could have won a 24th slam, and her first as a mother and wife, is open to question considering her lack of match practice, although if any one could do it the 36-year-old would be the one.

Should Djokovic come through that, he could face France's former world No 6 Gael Monfils, who enters the Australian Open as the recently-crowned Qatar Open champion - a tournament Djokovic has twice won but opted to miss this year to continue his recovery. "After a few good results previous year my confidence is much better now (against the top players) and I feel that I can play with them, but now I need to be more consistent to give them a good fight".

Milos Raonic
GETTYMilos Raonic is an outside bet for the Australian Open

Meanwhile, 2017 Australian Open champion Serena Williams opted out of the competition, saying that her preparations had fallen just short of what she needed to be competitive after giving birth in September. However, the real challenge could be Marin Cilic in the quarterfinal round (again, presuming chalk). "The trend of 30 somethings thriving in today's tennis landscape doesn't end with Roger (Federer), Rafa (Rafael Nadal), and the Williams sisters".

Reigning Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, seeded third, rounds out the top half of the draw and could face a daunting test in the third round from either 2016 champion Angelique Kerber or 2008 champion Maria Sharapova. He, more than any Australian player, will play the lead in a Grand Slam running theme: the extra heaps of pressure upon home-country, home-team players.

The women's field has tended to be a lot more volatile over the last decade and the battle for the No 1 ranking makes the women's draw even more interesting.

"It feels great. Obviously I was waiting for this moment for six months to get out on the court and play a match", Djokovic said.

Zverev, 20, won five tournaments a year ago, including Masters 1000 events in Rome and Montreal, to announce himself as a force to be reckoned with. However, if Ostapenko can find the kind of form that fired her to the French Open, then she has the power to hit through any player on tour.

US grand jury indicts man accused of Manhattan terror attack
Weather Authority: Rain, snow, and ice leading to hazardous travel on Thursday