March 18, 2018

'For now, I'm in' - Djokovic positive over Australian Open

14 January 2018, 12:35 | Pamela Mathis

Roger Federer looks set for a serene march to grand slam No 20 at Australian Open

Rod Laver heaps mighty praise on ageless Roger Federer

Bookmakers are tipping the world No. 2 and tournament's second seed to win the title at A$2.75 (S$2.88).

The 238th-ranked Maamoun next takes on 37-year-old Frenchman Stephane Robert while Safwat faces 22-year-old Italian Lorenzo Sonego.

He followed his run to the final in Melbourne by winning the French Open and U.S. Open, splitting the Grand Slam honors with Federer for the year.

However, perhaps the most significant indicator of who could shine brightest in 2018 came in October when Caroline Wozniacki battled to a maiden WTA Finals title, displaying a new brand of ruthless tennis that suggested a first grand slam was imminent.

ESPN analyst and former world No. 1 Chris Evert said Federer's experience and smooth style of play, which has left him relatively injury-free, set him apart from the field.

"I think there is a real opportunity for the next superstar".

While this is Maamoun's first Slam, Safwat is competing in his seventh.

The Egyptian No. 1 is used to being alone at the majors but is thrilled he finally gets to share the experience not just with a compatriot but a good friend in Maamoun.

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"I always feel like the legends, the icons, the all-time greats, are made from a different mould", he says. "Lleyton (Hewitt) and Pat Rafter, who I was lucky to watch and also lucky to play against him".

But former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash on Monday said he expected the Serbian to be the most risky of the injured stars.

"I didn't know what was going to happen but we did some treatments and gave it a lot of thought and luckily for me I'm here".

"It's the first time in my career that I've had such a long break", Djokovic explained. Overall, I'm quite happy with my level.

"For me, the biggest thing was when I lost the first six finals of the year, I didn't let it really put me down", the 27-year-old said after her Singapore triumph.

Maamoun shares Safwat's sentiments and is thankful they can both support each other in Melbourne this week.

"Just prior to winning Wimbledon in 2012, he was right there in the top five and had a couple of very hard losses, a couple of brutal matches to Novak [Djokovic]".

"'I'm just happy to be back on the court, it's been six months since I played any competitive play - today was my first match in Kooyong", Djokovic said about his win at the first exhibition. So, when Novak Djokovic too joined the bandwagon, he felt like the Australian tennis player himself.

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