Dominic Thiem an Australian Open doubt after Kooyong Classic withdrawal

Dominic Thiem an Australian Open doubt after Kooyong Classic withdrawal

Roger Federer found himself in a slightly awkward position before the Australian Open draw. "I don't like usually going to draws because they freak me out - I don't want to know who I play other than just seeing the sheet at the end and knowing who my first-round opponent is".

The former world number one, who will be chasing a record seventh Australian Open crown next week, had pulled out of a warm-up Abu Dhabi tournament, raising concerns over whether he would be fit enough to play at Melbourne Park.

New rules reverting Grand Slams to 16 seeds from the current 32 are due to come into force in 2019. "Hopefully if I can reach the last few rounds, I will feel more comfortable".

Top seed Simona Halep opens against wild card Destanee Aiava, and could face slumping star Eugenie Bouchard in the second round.

Rafael Nadal suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Richard Gasquet of France at the Kooyong Classic exhibition in Australia.He went down to Gasquet 4-6, 5-7.This was Nadal's first match in a while.

"He lets the losses roll off his back, there's no tension there". He is a home favourite.

Nadal seems to have an easier path through to the finals with Cilic, Sock, Dimitrov and Nick Kyrgios in his half of the draw.

They were richly rewarded, with fine hitting from two of the biggest names in the sport.

But more so than the competition, it is the 36-year-old Federer's dominant play at this month's Hopman Cup, where he won all four of his singles matches and led Switzerland to a third title, that gives him the edge. He will be a danger man if his hip and attention span hold up.

Man United enquire about surprise Premier League target
They have already sacked Mark Hughes from the position of the manager, and are on the lookout for an able replacement. He's a little bit the same in relation to other players that are involved in this gossip of the transfer market.

Seven-time champion Williams announced last week she wouldn't defend her title, saying she was "super close" but not quite ready to compete so soon after becoming a mother.

Men's third seed Grigor Dimitrov will face a qualifier with Alexander Zverev, ranked fourth, playing Italian Thomas Fabbiano but with 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka, returning after a spell sidelines after surgery, in his section of the draw.

The tennis community and sporting world yearns for another instalment in the Federer-Nadal rivalry but while form is temporary and class is permanent, a lack of preparation may rob the Australian public of another unforgettable event.

"Those are the beautiful things of life".

Can Maria triumph in Serena's absence?

Bouchard, who has fallen on tough times in recent years and comes into Melbourne ranked 81st, faces France's Oceane Dodin in the first round.

Court, a Pentecostal pastor, has strong views on homosexuality.

In November, Nadal had announced the withdrawal from the ATP World Tour Finals citing a knee injury, which also forced him to subsequently pull out of Paris Masters.