Novak Djokovic shuns cameras in Melbourne hit-out

Karolina Pliskova

Karolina Pliskova reached the Australian Open quarter-finals in 2017

Thiem has not exactly thrived at the Australian Open in the past, having made the second week just once in four attempts, but is seeded in a good position for this year's tournament (he won't face anyone higher than him until at least the quarterfinals) and showed some fairly promising tennis in Doha this week.

Djokovic lost to Lleyton Hewitt in the Tie Break Tens exhibition event on Margaret Court Arena later in the day.

The biggest threat to the Spaniard looks likely to come from the towering presence of the big-serving Croat Marin Cilic.

Players will also be able to claim 50 percent of their prize money if they pull out before their first match, an incentive created to allow a replacement to play instead.With tens of thousands of dollars at stake just for playing in round one, early injury pull-outs have often caused suspicion at Grand Slams, particularly at last year's Wimbledon.

"It would be ideal if I got another tournament under my belt before the Australian Open but my elbow wasn't ready but I'm going to take whatever I can".

"For now, I am in the (Australian Open) tournament and let's hope with God's grace that everything will be fine in the next five days". The seedings for the Australian Open have been largely decided according to the ATP world rankings. In fact the world No.2, Caroline Wozniacki hasn't won a Slam either.

Injury and illness stalled her initial return to the circuit but a Tianjin Open win in October and run to the Shenzhen Open semi-finals suggests the five-time major victor is nearing her best and the 2008 champion will expect to go deep in Melbourne. The US Open champion said that she needed an extra week's rehab.

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"I knew that I can not make it with only Futures so I had to step up my game and try to compete at a higher level", explains Maamoun.

The former World No 1 took a break from tennis after winning her 23rd Grand Slam at Melbourne a year ago due to her pregnancy.

The remaining 2017 majors were shared by three rising stars of the game, with Latvian teen Jelena Ostapenko storming to the French Open title, Garbine Muguruza winning Wimbledon and Sloane Stephens returning from injury to lift the U.S. Open crown. "Some of them I've played against".

Of course, British fans want know if this will be the year when Johanna Konta [25.0] takes a giant leap and wins her first Slam.

On the women's side, Serena Williams is not defending her title as she regains her fitness after childbirth, leaving the family interests in the hands of defending finalist Venus Williams.

When asked if he will play in the Grand Slam that starts next week, he added: "For now, I'm in the tournament".

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