Australian Open: Novak Djokovic admits his elbow not yet 100 per cent

Ross Houston
January 13, 2018

They're all in the same half of the draw as defending champion Roger Federer, who a year ago returned from an extended injury time out to beat Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final and end a Grand Slam drought dating back to 2012.

It forced him to skip the lead-up Brisbane International this month, and he has only had a one-match workout at the exhibition Kooyong Classic in Melbourne ahead of the Grand Slam starting Monday.

With so few matches under his belt ahead of the season-opening Grand Slam, he asked organisers if they could do him a special favour, and they obliged.

"I'm happy with the new service motion", he said.

'It feels great. Obviously I was waiting for this moment for six months to get out on the court and play a match, ' Djokovic said.

"I feel like I spend less energy but I'm more efficient", he said.

It saw Nadal play Austrian world number five Dominic Thiem this week on a practice court under full match conditions, with ball kids, scoreboard, and umpire.

Federer added: "I think he's incredibly talented".

"But I'm feeling better. The job was done the right way".

The pair split the four grand slam trophies between them previous year, with Nadal, at 31, finishing the season as the ATP rankings' oldest world number one.

Not only can he clinch a 17th Grand Slam in Melbourne, but he also has the opportunity to join Roy Emerson and Rod Laver as only the third man in the Open era to win each of the four Grand Slams twice.

Australia's Nick Kyrgios is the sole men's seed but, unfortunately, misses out on a coveted top-16 ranking by one place.

"For me the Australian Open, if you are not 100 percent motivated to win this tournament, you probably don't love the sport".

But he knows anything can happen so early in the season, despite being the top ranked player in the world.

"But everyone starts from zero".

"I'm just glad to be back playing tennis, having an opportunity to compete yet again in the big tournaments".

A magical 20th slam might seem a formality for a player who did it all in last year's tournament with the shortest of run-ups, but on closer inspection, Federer's path through the draw is far from straightforward. "Moya has come with new ideas and new methods of working that have worked well and we are excited".

"Even if it was 100 per cent healed, after six months out of competition, you never know how you are going to react", he said.

He can take some credit for the vast improvement in Nadal's second serve, which helped the Spaniard win a 10th Roland Garros title without dropping a set and saw him blow away Kevin Anderson to lift the final major of the year in NY.

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