Australian Open 2018: Evergreen Roger Federer is clear favourite

Twelve months on from his unforgettable surge to a fifth Open crown aged 35 and in his first official tournament back after six months out of the game, Federer admits he can still barely believe what he pulled off.

Armed with a new serve and a dose of cautious optimism, Novak Djokovic resurfaced in public for the first time since Wimbledon as the most interesting exhibit of the Australian Open's walking wounded. He stayed injury free until the final stages of his brilliant 2017 campaign, winning a 10th French Open title and then claiming the US Open, before familiar knee problems returned putting an end to his season at the ATP Finals in London.

The Spaniard will be followed by last year's champion and his long time rival on court and great friend of it, Roger Federer as the 2nd seed for the event. "But I've arrived with plenty of time and it's a good day to start again the feelings of playing a match", the 16-time Grand Slam champion added. Nor did it matter that amid the din of Federer and Nadal re-establishing their duopoly in 2017, much of the tennis world around them had a dishevelled look to it. He is a home favourite. There are strong talents here: Denis Shapovalov sensationally beat Nadal in Canada last year, and Alexander Zverev is fourth in the current ranking.

Venus Williams says Serena is "here in spirit" supporting her in Australia, where she's hopeful of ending an almost decade-long Grand Slam title drought.

"Defending a title the very first time is the hard part... if you don't win, it's all dramatic but later on in life you take it as it comes, try your best and if it works out, great but if it doesn't, it just doesn't". Her public stance against same-sex marriage, which is now legal in Australia after a vote last year, has led to renewed calls that Margaret Court Arena should be renamed. However, her inconsistency in recent months will be her undoing and will be a big miss for a tournament lacking star names. Because of the elbow, that shot in my game was compromised prior to Wimbledon in July when it actually happened that I had to stop. Nobody from the younger generations has risen to the challenge of consistently rivalling Federer and Nadal, the pair who have dominated the sport since 2005. As some of the most influential artists of 15-17th centuries, the Flemish Masters ensured Flanders' position at the forefront of art movements such as Primitive, Renaissance and Baroque. He will open the defence of his title against Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene. Chris Kermode, executive chairman of the men's tour, the Association of Tennis Professionals, promised a shake-up, although he accepted the players' reasons for withdrawing.

The six-times Melbourne champion played in not just one exhibition tournament but two on Wednesday as he prepares to take his unaccustomed seeding of number fourteen in Thursday morning's draw.

They were richly rewarded, with fine hitting from two of the biggest names in the sport.

The final category is the young players to watch. If Bellis can make it into can make it past the third round then it will be a true demonstration of her potential.

"If you really need it, do it for the finals, the semifinals, but this is unnecessary for the guys", she said.

While the roof was closed, both men struggled in humid conditions and called off a third set in favour of a tiebreak.