Aus­tralian Open now a fit­ness test

Sun.Star Davao - - TOP SPORTS -

MEL­BOURNE, Aus­tralia — With Rafael Nadal and No­vak Djokovic among the walk­ing wounded and Ser­ena Wil­liams al­ready de­cid­ing not to de­fend her ti­tle, in­juries and ab­sen­tees have been the fo­cus of at­ten­tion ahead of the Aus­tralian Open.

That's not both­er­ing Roger Fed­erer, who is re­turn­ing as de­fend­ing cham­pion just 12 months af­ter en­ter­ing the sea­sonopen­ing Grand Slam tour­na­ment seeded 17th and un­cer­tain of his prospects af­ter six months off the tour with an in­jured left knee.

He beat Nadal in a fiveset fi­nal for his 18th Grand Slam ti­tle — and his first since 2012 — and later won Wim­ble­don.

"I just thought that the game and the wins weren't go­ing to come ... be­cause I would just run into a red-hot Djokovic or Mur­ray or Nadal or some­body and my game wasn't go­ing to be good enough," Fed­erer re­called. "I had all these great five-set­ters and, at the end, the epic match against Rafa. Af­ter six, seven matches, you start feel­ing like a dif­fer­ent player, that you can't miss any­more. The fifth set (of the fi­nal) was maybe the best set I ever played.

"What a come­back it was and it was def­i­nitely the high­light of the year."

Sec­ond-seeded Fed­erer and No. 14-seeded Djokovic have al­most traded places.AP

DE­FEND­ING CHAM­PION. De­fend­ing sin­gles men's cham­pion Switzer­land's Roger Fed­erer poses for a photo with his tro­phy dur­ing a cer­e­mony for the of­fi­cial draw at the Aus­tralian Open ten­nis cham­pi­onships in Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia Thurs­day, Jan. 11, 2018. AP Photo/Mark Baker

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