Djokovic and Federer eye seventh heaven

The first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open, will get underway with a number of the top men’s singles contenders far from fully prepared.

Two-time defending champion Roger Federer admitted to being troubled by a wrist injury for part of the 2018 season and he will have to hope that those issues are behind him when he starts out in Melbourne.

Fed-Express goes for Melbourne record

Many thought the days of Grand Slam glory for Federer had passed before he roared back into life in Melbourne in 2017, with the Swiss maestro repeating that success 12 months later and now 6.00 to make it three in a row Down Under.

Should he triumph, he will surpass both Roy Emerson and Novak Djokovic in claiming a seventh Australian Open title.

Djokovic top of the pile

Not so long ago Djokovic was staring down the same barrel as Federer, as he toiled with long-term fitness issues, however he is now back at number one in the world and, having cleaned up at Wimbledon and the US Open, is looking for a third straight Grand Slam success.

Djokovic has enjoyed more success in Australia than anywhere else and he is rightfully 2.20 favourite to beat Federer to a seventh Melbourne title.

Zverev ready to step up?

Long touted as a future superstar, Alex Zverev delivered on his potential at the ATP Finals at the end of last season, now he simply has to improve on a Grand Slam record which features just one quarter-final appearance.

At 9.00 to triumph in Melbourne, he may still be a little skinny and a recent injury scare does little to negate the notion that the time may still not be right for Zverev to make the giant leap to become a Grand Slam champion.

Dominic Thiem (29.00) has come much closer than Zverev by reaching the French Open final last year and his hardcourt record suggests that he could beat the German to the punch, when it comes to major success.

Cilic still right in the mix

Marin Cilic (23.00) is a player often overlooked as a definite contender for the title, with the big Croatian the beaten finalist in Melbourne 12 months ago.

The 2014 US Open champion backed that up by reaching the quarter-finals at both the French Open and the US Open, so he has the big-match pedigree and the game to trouble the very best when he is on song.