Novak Djokovic dominates Dominic Thiem in first match since Wimbledon

Federer, Sharapova at Oz Open draw

The Melbourne Park might witness a blockbuster semi-final as Federer and Novak Djokovic, who is seeded 14th on his return after a six-month injury layoff, have been drawn in the same half.

Nowhere was that more evident than previous year when Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer - supposedly past their best - triumphed to make the final, Federer eventually running out the victor in five sets.

The prospects of an unprecedented 20th Grand Slam victory have strengthened for ageless wonder Roger Federer as his main rivals flounder ahead of the Australian Open.

Though his withdrawal from Doha was disappointing, Thiem will certainly be ready for the Australian Open.

The first Grand Slam of 2018 is just about here in the Australian Open from Melbourne.

In the absence of the defending champion, Serena Williams, who feels unready to return yet after the birth of her first child, Olympia, Victoria Azarenka might have fancied her chances in a diminished field, but has had to pull out because of the custody battle for her young son, Leo.

The former Wimbledon finalist's ranking has slid to 83 after making a first-round exit past year in 14 tournaments including Wimbledon and the US Open.

The Dane had lost six straight finals before winning the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo a month earlier and she carried that momentum to Singapore before starting the season with a solid showing in Auckland to move up to second in the world rankings.

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Third-seeded Muguruza is in a hard quarter containing former Australian Open champions Maria Sharapova and Angelique Kerber, and U.S. Open finalist Madison Keys.

But more so than the competition, it is the 36-year-old Federer's dominant play at this month's Hopman Cup, where he won all four of his singles matches and led Switzerland to a third title, that gives him the edge. He missed the US Open with that injury, which bothered him throughout the 2017 season until it was cut short.

"There's no easy way to get to the top", Sharapova told the crowd at Margaret Court Arena before the draw.

"Also I got a great opponent - No. 5 in the world".

The women's draw delivered a more favourable result for Johanna Konta and Heather Watson, the two Britons who earned direct entry into the tournament.

"The drive, I still have it".

"Luckily for me, I'm here", Djokovic said after he beat Thiem on Wednesday. "I put a lot of expectations on myself because I have been there, and I have delivered in those moments".

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