The best tennis players in the world have begun hitting the practice courts at Melbourne Park as the Australian Open gets underway in less than a week!
After an enjoyable Hopman Cup campaign in Perth, four-time champion Roger Federer has returned to Melbourne as he prepares to launch his 17th Australian Open campaign. Federer has lost just once before the semi-finals of the Australian Open since 2004, but at the same time, the Swiss great hasn’t advanced to the final since he last won the title in 2010.
Federer has fallen to No. 17 in the world after he called time on his 2016 season after Wimbledon due to injury, and as a result, risks running into a big name in the third and fourth rounds.
Andy Murray has also arrived in Melbourne. The World No. 1 saw his 28-match winning streak snapped by Novak Djokovic in the Doha final just a few days ago and he risks losing top spot to the Serbian in Melbourne.
Murray will relinquish his No. 1 ranking if Djokovic wins the title and he fails to make the semi-finals, but the Scot will be thinking more about finally securing Australian Open silverware after his five previous runner-up finishes.
And don’t forget about Rafael Nadal. The 14-time major winner and 2009 Australian Open champion has experienced a challenging last couple of years, but you can never rule him out at the biggest tournaments.
With last year’s opening round five-set loss to Fernando Verdasco still fresh in his mind, Nadal will be determined to go deep in Melbourne this time around.
On the women’s side, 22-time grand slam champion Serena Williams has also toiled away on Rod Laver Arena ahead of her 2017 Australian Open campaign.
Williams returns to Melbourne in the recently unfamiliar territory of No. 2 after Angelique Kerber - who beat her in last year’s final - leapfrogged her in the rankings late last year. Williams comes into this tournament on the back of a shock second round loss in Auckland to Madison Brengle, but the six-time Australian Open champion remains a formidable force and is arguably the favourite to recapture the crown come the end of January.
The 2017 Australian Open is live from 16-29 January.