Australian Open 2019

Published:  01:35 AM, 10 January 2019 Last Update: 01:37 AM, 10 January 2019

Old guys remain favorites to win opener

Old guys remain favorites to win opener

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer loom over Melbourne Park for the year's opening Grand Slam as favorites for the Australian Open as questions remain as to whether one of Generation Next could finally end their stranglehold.

The Serbian world number one and his Swiss opponent have won eight of the nine titles on Rod Laver Arena since 2010 and 11 of the last 13 on the bright blue courts in central Melbourne. Both have six titles each, and are seeking to break a three-way tie for the most victories with Australia's Roy Emerson.

While Federer has won the tournament for the last two years - with the 2017 victory at the age of 35 a surprising return after knee surgery in 2016 - Djokovic's history in Australia and rediscovery of his form midway through last year means the world number one will be the man to beat.

The 31-year-old went into a bewildering slump in mid-2016 that only ended when he won Wimbledon last year before he went on to claim his third U.S. Open crown and move to 14 Grand Slam titles, three behind Rafa Nadal.

The Spanish world number two, however, is battling another leg injury that forced him out of the Brisbane International last week. While he told local media on Tuesday that he did not feel any pain from his thigh strain, it is apparent that hard courts are putting undue stress on the 32-year-old's body.

He retired in the quarter-finals against Marin Cilic last year in Melbourne and suffered yet another knee injury that forced him out of the U.S. Open semi-finals at Flushing Meadows before he had ankle surgery in November.

Federer, however, continues to defy the odds at 37 and prepared for his title defence with some convincing performances in the Hopman Cup in Perth last week.

-Reuters, Melbourne

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