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Posted at: Jan 14, 2018, 1:45 AM; last updated: Jan 14, 2018, 1:45 AM (IST)AUSTRALIAN OPEN

Fed tips Kyrgios favourite

Fed tips Kyrgios favourite
Roger Federer high fives an actor dressed as Spider-Man during the Kids Day ahead of the Australian Open in Melbourne. AFP

Melbourne, January 13

Defending champion Roger Federer sees temperamental Australian Nick Kyrgios as a threat at the Australian Open — if he can keep his focus. The 19-time Grand Slam winner, who is coming off an extraordinary 2017 in which he won two Grand Slams, will be up against a depleted field when the first Grand Slam of the year begins at Melbourne Park on Monday, with Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori out injured. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have also been struggling in the lead-up, potentially leaving the door open to one of the so-called “NextGen”. The volatile Kyrgios is among them and in good form, winning the lead-up Brisbane International last weekend, beating another young gun, Grigor Dimitrov, along the way. Federer said his recent title success had not gone unnoticed. 

Nadal ready

Top seed Rafael Nadal starts the Australian Open next week for the first time in his career without playing a warm-up tournament, and no uncle Toni by his side. But the Spanish star said he feels good and his motivation remains strong. Nadal, who is gunning for a 17th Major title but only his second Australian Open crown, was hampered by a knee injury at the tail-end of the 2017 season. It forced him to skip the lead-up Brisbane International this month, and he has only had a one-match workout at the exhibition Kooyong Classic in Melbourne ahead of the Grand Slam. Yet he is unfazed and raring to go as he seeks to go one better than last year when he lost an epic Melbourne Park final to Roger Federer. 

Djokovic raring to go

Novak Djokovic says he’s excited to be back after a long injury-enforced break, admitting he has missed the “fire and passion” of competitive tennis. Djokovic has been sidelined with an elbow injury that had been progressively getting worse over the past few years. 

Ramkumar one win away from main draw

Ramkumar Ramanathan won his second round qualifying match in straight sets, beating France’s Gleb Sakharov 6-4 7-6 (12). On Sunday, he will take on world No. 109 Vasek Pospisil in the third round to qualify for the main draw. Yuki Bhambri takes on Peter Polansky to qualify for the main draw. — Agencies

Agut beats del Potro to win Auckland title

Roberto Bautista Agut won his second Auckland Classic title with a 6-1 4-6 7-5 victory over Juan Martin del Potro. The fifth seeded Bautista Agut, who clinched the title in 2016 but was unable to defend it last year due to illness, never let the tall Argentine settle or get into a rhythm.

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