Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal named Ambassadors of the Year

Nadal begins new era without mentor Toni Nadal in Australia

"Honestly, it's a good place to be". "I hope to be healthy and competitive, and most important thing, I hope to enjoy tennis one more year".

Federer took his grand slam tally to 19 after extended rest breaks and Nadal, who enters his 18th season on the ATP tour, has also benefitted from carefully picking tournaments to preserve his fitness, something he will do so again this year.

And so if the 2017 Australian Open was one for the ages - the revival of the Federer- Nadal rivalry and another Williams sisters final - the 2018 edition is shaping as a survival of the fittest. 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".

Few would bet against him becoming only the fourth tennis player to reach 20 in two weeks time, although Federer was reluctant to accept the favourite's tag.

"I increased my serve by several kilometres per hour and I think I did better overall with my second than first, and I can say I won some points nearly for free as a result", Nadal said in an interview with Spanish daily AS in December.

"I've showed on multiple occasions over the year that I can play and beat the best guys in the world", Zverev said. "But right now it's at the level where I can compete, and every day is getting better", he said.

Williams withdrew after having given birth last September, Murray with the hip injury that short-circuited his 2017 season last July at Wimbledon, and Nishikori with the wrist that has made him inactive on the ATP Tour since last August in Montreal.

But the Spanish star said Saturday he feels good and his motivation remains strong.

"If I got to play the way I did yesterday against the number five in the world ... That's my goal, was to come here, to practise three, four hours a day, to see how the knee can keep it".

Barty will have to overcome world no.69 Aryna Sabarenka, but world no.1 Simona Halep awaits in the round of 32 if they are both successful on their run to the final. I still have this afternoon and tomorrow, the last practice before the competition starts for me. The much touted "Next Gen" players may beg to differ with that assessment but of the young guns desperate to prove themselves, the likes of Alexander Zverev, Thiem, Andrey Rublev and Denis Shapovalov, none have experienced life at the very sharp end of a major event. "So as a player, you like to set yourself goals". At 37, Venus is seeded No. 5, coming off a loss to former No. 1 Anglique Kerber in Sydney and has a tougher opener against Belinda Bencic, who combined with Federer last week to win the Hopman Cup. "I want to take care of business one round at a time".

"He won a couple Grand Slams".

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