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14 January 2018, 08:19 | Anna Jefferson
Nadal next plays Leonardo Mayer of Argentina
His back has troubled him in recent years, and problems in the build up to the US Open rendered him a shadow of the man who played with such magnificence in Melbourne and at Wimbledon.
They're in the same half of the draw - along with No. 4 Alexander Zverev, No. 5 Dominc Thiem, No. 7 David Goffin and No. 9 Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 Australian Open victor who is also returning from injury. "I'm not going to say quarter-finals, semi-finals, anything like that", he said. "So that's the good news".
There may be no Andy Murray, but the men's tournament will have no shortage of returning stars who will all be aiming to start 2018 by claiming the Australian Open title.
Roger Federer is no stranger to performing superhuman feats on the tennis court so it wasn't a surprise when he and Milos Raonic were joined by a couple of superheroes during "Kids Day" ahead of the Australian Open.
But the year was largely deflating, as he was bundled out early from the grand slams while battling hip problems through majority.
"Having seem him in action at the Hopman Cup, he was looking great. I definitely feel comfortable on Hisense Arena".
While Serena Williams took time off to have a baby and is not yet fit for the grueling task and Melbourne heat, two-time champion Victoria Azarenka had to withdraw because of an ongoing custody battle over her 11-month-old son with her former husband.
That was his last competitive action as he missed warm-up events in Abu Dhabi and Brisbane and only returned for the Kooyong Classic exhibition tournament on January 9, in which he lost in straight sets to Richard Gasquet.
Women's top seeds: 1.
"I still know what I'm capable of, and I believe in my own abilities to win against the best players in the world", he said, rather optimistically.
Nadal played 78 matches a year ago, which is 21 more than Federer.
"It's not entirely different, but at the beginning even those small tweaks and changes have made a lot of difference mentally", he said. 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 depth in women's tennis has got so strong in the last few years", she added.
The six-time Open champion played his first exhibition matches in six months on Wednesday, and reported delight at his performance - and no pain from the hit-out.
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