The future 5 at the Australian Open

The future 5 at the Australian Open

The former world number one will aim to clinch his sixth Australian Open title when the tournament gets underway at Melbourne Park starting on January 15.

Federer beat Rafael Nadal in the final here past year on his return from six months on the sidelines and is seeded No. 2 as he bids for a 20th Grand Slam singles title. Djokovic fell to Zverev in their only prior clash in the final of last year's Masters 1000 in Rome.

Meanwhile, 2017 Australian Open champion Serena Williams opted out of the competition, saying that her preparations had fallen just short of what she needed to be competitive after giving birth in September.

With Nadal and Federer now entrenched as top seeds, Djokovic, a six-time champion here, has the chance to prove spoiler in his first tournament since an elbow injury forced him out of Wimbledon.

Her sister Venus, who lost the all-Williams Australian Open final a year ago, has a tough opener against Belinda Bencic - who combined with Federer to win the Hopman Cup for Switzerland last week - and is also in the same quarter as U.S. Open victor Sloane Stephens.

Federer doesn't have much run until the quarterfinals, when he could face either Juan Martin del Potro or David Goffin, both of whom had stellar 2017 seasons. He is seeking consecutive major wins for the first time since winning the French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open in 2010.

Australian women's No.1 Ashleigh Barty, the 18th seed, faces Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, while 23rd seed Daria Gavrilova opens against a qualifier in her bid to reach the second week for a third-straight year.

Federer out to win his 20th grand slam in Melbourne this month. "The past eight years have been the best because I'm a big family man".

Their replacement - a "lucky loser" from the qualifying tournament - will get the other 50 percent of the first-round prize money. Chris Kermode, executive chairman of the men's tour, the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), promised a shake-up, although he accepted the players' reasons for withdrawing. Those players are on the bottom half with second-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, who is ranked inside the top two for the first time since 2012.

They will also be restricted to five minutes' warm-up time on court, and another one minute before the first point.

There had been doubt whether he would even make the trip to Melbourne. New rules reverting Grand Slams to 16 seeds from the current 32 are due to come into force in 2019.

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