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After one for the ages, Australian Open now a fitness test

13 January, 2018, 05:13 | Author: Joan Malone
  • After one for the ages, Australian Open now a fitness test

The former World No. 1, who admittedly is still not at 100% fitness, played his first match after the break on Wednesday at the high-profile exhibition event, the Kooyong Classic.

Djokovic, who pulled out of a warm-up tournament in Abu Dhabi last week, easily overpowered Thiem, who only arrived in Melbourne on Monday night after four days in bed with a virus.

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.

Although Djokovic said he was delighted with his performance, especially his serve, he acknowledged that he was still not in ideal shape.

He was far from his best against world No. 31 Gasquet, but it was a big step forward as he targets a second Australian Open title.

The No. 1-ranking changed seven times in 2017, with five different women assuming top spot - three for the first time.

The Spaniard, who hasn't played since the World Tour Finals in London, had a stellar 2017, winning his 10th French Open, a third US Open crown and the year-ending world number one spot.

Federer, seeded second, and will bid for his 20th Grand Slam title in the bottom half of the draw.

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"It was a good test for me and good practice", the 16-times grand slam victor told reporters after his 6-4 7-5 loss in which he appeared to be moving freely, if not a little rusty in his shotmaking.

It was a long year last year so I had to start the preparation a little bit later than usual.

Several top players-including Williams, Andy Murray, Victoria Azarenka and Kei Nishikori-won't participate in this year's tournament for a variety of health-related and personal reasons.

Germany's Zverev won their only match so far, comfortably defeating Djokovic in straight sets in the Rome Masters final a year ago.

"It's their view and I've never needed the help of Tennis Australia to achieve what I've achieved in my career".

"There's going to be certain players who are very underdone, and you don't expect them to do particularly well", Cash said.

"It doesn't help when someone wants to walk on the court and get straight back off - that mental state doesn't help", she said.

"I have felt pain in my right adductor since I started practising here".

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