Published: Sun, January 14, 2018
Sports | By Nelson Rowe

Novak Djokovic looks forward to try out new serves at Australian Open

Novak Djokovic looks forward to try out new serves at Australian Open

"I'd love to do well here but, for me, it's just another tournament".

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The Australian Open is just days away and the main contenders are offering their final thoughts before the battle starts.

Serena Williams (23) and Steffi Graf (22) have achieved the unique feat, and Margaret Court (24) has done it if you include those won before the Open era, but no male player has.

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.

Yet few would be surprised if the tournament ends in a repeat of last year's final with Federer up against his great Spanish rival and top seed Nadal.

A magical 20th slam might seem a formality for a player who did it all in last year's tournament with the shortest of run-ups, but on closer inspection, Federer's path through the draw is far from straightforward. During all these years, I was very happy to keep playing tennis.

He won all his four singles matches as he and Belinda Bencic helped Switzerland lift the Hopman Cup in Perth.

Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza hasn't had the ideal preparation, but is determined all the same. Karolina Pliskova, Czech Republic; 7.

It forced him to skip the lead-up Brisbane International this month, and he has only had a one-match workout at the exhibition Kooyong Classic in Melbourne ahead of the Grand Slam starting Monday.

Muguruza is expecting the constant changes at the top of the women's game to continue in 2018.

The 16-times grand slam champion showed no sign of discomfort in defeating fifth seed Thiem and said he felt "good" and was "more or less" playing well.

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"There were definitely a lot of wins this year", she said at season's end in Singapore, "and definitely a lot of wins that were satisfying". "I feel myself more or less playing well", he added. Federer has not looked as confident going into a major since 2007, when he started the year triumphantly at Melbourne Park and also won Wimbledon and the US Open, establishing the triple for the third time in his career, as well as taking Rafael Nadal to four sets on the clay of the French Open.

The 12-time major victor said he was doing everything possible to be ready in time for the Australian. Coming to Melbourne without a warm-up tournament is a new experience for him - he asked to play a full practice match against Dominic Thiem yesterday and scraped through on a champions' tiebreak - but he, at least, is feeling in reasonable nick.

"If he wins the title tonight he goes to 80th in the world which is right up there with some of the best players in the world".

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