Federer to launch Australian Open defence against Istomin

Nick Kyrgios- Brisbane International 2019

Nick Kyrgios- Brisbane International 2019

Wozniacki, ranked three, started last season by winning her first Grand Slam in Melbourne and returning to world number one, but ended it in October with the bombshell announcement that she had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

In the men's draw, world number one Novak Djokovic will start his drive to make history against a yet-to-be-decided qualifier and could meet France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second round.

All eyes were on Serena Williams, who won the Australian Open when seven weeks pregnant in 2017 and needs one more major to draw alongside Margaret Court at the top of the all-time list on 24, as the women's draw was made on Thursday.

Amid unsavoury scenes, Osaka went on to win her maiden grand slam title.

Federer, however, continues to defy the odds at 37 and prepared for his title defence with some convincing performances in the Hopman Cup in Perth last week. "It means so much to me".

"The fact that she could break the record for overall grand slams, that will overshadow everything at the end of the day".

That loss left Williams, who also lost in the Wimbledon final a year ago, short of matching Margaret Court's marker of 24 grand slam titles, a record the American has another chance of equalling in Melbourne over the next fortnight.

Unseeded Estonian Kanepi knocked Halep out of the first round at Flushing Meadows previous year, making the Romanian the first top seed to lose at that tournament's earliest stage.

Talking about the draw, Serena has been handed a tough draw and could meet world number one Simona Halep in round four, and if she gets through that, Karolina Pliskova in the last eight. Combined with the pressure of becoming the first Japanese player to win a major, and the fanatical support that brings, there were fears she could wilt under the spotlight. He expects her to be in the title mix going forward.

Wozniacki also has a question mark over her fitness after the 28-year-old Dane revealed her battle with rheumatoid arthritis last October, but has since claimed that she has learnt to live with it.

But she fell foul of officials with the spandex compression garment outfit criticised by the French Tennis Federation president and subsequently banned at Roland Garros.

Also in the mix is the popular Osaka, who stunned Williams in NY. She warmed up for Melbourne by making the semi-finals of the Brisbane International last week, where she blamed a poor attitude for losing to Lesia Tsurenko.

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