Fitness questions raised over leading stars ahead of Australian Open


Both had appeared yesterday at the Kooyong Classic, Nadal losing to Richard Gasquet and Djokovic beating Dominic Thiem to reassure fans they were not planning on pulling out of the Australian Open. That was his last competitive action as he missed warm-up events in Abu Dhabi and Brisbane and only returned for the Kooyong Classic exhibition tournament on January 9, in which he lost in straight sets to Richard Gasquet.

"It's their view and I've never needed the help of Tennis Australia to achieve what I've achieved in my career".

Take look at some of the stars who have been struggling in the run up to the Australian Open. After being forced out of action for seven weeks following a surgery on his wrist, Raonic lasted just one game before picking up another injury when he was forced to retire in the second round of the Japan Open due to a calf strain.

"It was a great start, it feels really good to be back on the court", a beaming Djokovic said in an on-court interview after his first competitive set since Wimbledon a year ago.

The injuries and illness in the run-up to the tournament have seen many players, not 100 percent fit to take part in the first Grand Slam of the year.

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Top-ranked Nadal will open against Victor Estrella Burgos, has a potential fourth-round match against John Isner, and No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov in his half of the draw.

The Australian Open gets under way on Monday.

Cabrera was awarded a wildcard into the Australian Open draw last week and the world No.152 will chase her first win on Australian soil this summer when she faces off with world No.71 Maia.

Djokovic was shocked by retired Australian Lleyton Hewitt, who then went on to have match point against Nadal, only for the Spaniard to win through to the final.

"For me, the biggest thing was when I lost the first six finals of the year, I didn't let it really put me down", the 27-year-old said after her Singapore triumph.

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The first grand slam always brings with it a sense of uncertainty.

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.

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

Djokovic will begin this tournament ranked number 14 in the world and seriously lacking any kind of form after being out injured for the second half of last season.

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