Lunes, 24 Setiembre, 2018

Djokovic beats Thiem in strong comeback after six-month absence

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer after last year’s Australian Open final Novak Djokovic fires out Australian Open warning with thumping Dominic Thiem win
Montrelle Montesinos | 14 Enero, 2018, 11:37

Nadal was naturally rusty after his extended break but he looked free from his notorious knee problems and is by no means alone in heading to the Australian Open after injury troubles.

"I'll say that when I start a tournament and when I get to actually feel that it's 100 per cent".

On immediate form, few could argue. He can take some credit for the vast improvement in Nadal's second serve, which helped the Spaniard win a 10th Roland Garros title without dropping a set and saw him blow away Kevin Anderson to lift the US Open.

Federer took his grand slam tally to 19 after extended rest breaks and Nadal, who enters his 18th season on the ATP tour, has also benefitted from carefully picking tournaments to preserve his fitness, something he will do so again this year.

The 24-year-old, who reached the fourth round at Melbourne Park last year, said after the round robin match that he felt he had recovered from the virus but on Thursday pulled out of his tie against France's Lucas Pouille. "My schedule in 2017 was the correct one, only playing the tournaments that were practically obligatory and the occasional warm up event", he told AS.

"He needs matches and needs to play but I'm feeling great and played well so it's always nice to play matches like that".

The men's and women's events are both missing two of their top-32 players.

Year after year the bright sparks and 'Next Big Things' have been denied by the 'Big Four' at the slams.

'It was a fantastic test for me to see where I am, to see what we have done as a team and whether it works on the court.

Novak Djokovic returned with a bang to thump world No. 5 Dominic Thiem at the Kooyang Classic, but stopped short of declaring himself 100% fit ahead of the Australian Open.

Most bookmakers see third seed Grigor Dimitrov as the best chance among them to make a breakthrough in Melbourne, but still rate the Bulgarian lower than Djokovic, who brings a major query over his serving elbow, is seeded 14th and has barely swung a racquet in six months. I had plenty of time, but at the same time the elbow needed more time to recover.

"I basically came here to get the answer to see if I'm ready to play or if I'm not ready to play", Wawrinka said.