Defending Champion Roger Federer plays it safe citing his age as a major reason as to why he shouldn't be considered as one of the favourites to win the Australian Open 2018. Federer has also added that Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are in a better situation to win the tournament in Melbourne.
Between 2006 and 2011, there were barely any other takers at the Grand Slams – Nadal and Federer combined won 19 out of 24 titles. The Australian Open 2017 saw the two face each other in the finals once again when many had written the duo off. However, Federer, at the age of 35 then, returned to competitive tennis after six months, defeated four top-10 players involving three five-setters, to lift Grand Slam number 18. The Swiss added one more to the tally by lifting Wimbledon title, beating Marin Cilic in the final.
But the five-time champion played it safe this year and maintained, "With age, I feel like I play down my chances just because I don't think a 36-year-old should be a favourite of a tournament, it should not be the case. That's why I see things more relaxed, you know, at a later stage of my career."
When quizzed about last year’s achievements, Federer said, "Last year was more of a 'let's see what happens' kind of tournament, maybe similar to what Novak or Stan or others are going through this year.
"I [wasn't] at 100%, but you never know in a week's time what's going to be happening. If you're in the draw, you give yourself a chance," he added.
30-year-old Nadal also suffered a wrist injury in 2016 but came out strong by advancing to the Australian Open finals where he eventually lost to arch-nemesis Roger Federer in what was a thrilling encounter. Federer is of the opinion that even this year, the top-ranked Spaniard along with Novak Djokovic, who is returning from a shoulder injury, should be considered favourites for this tournament.
"I feel like maybe somebody like a Rafa, with the year that he's had, and Novak, with the six titles he's had here, even if it's unknown how he's feeling, they could very well be the favourites
Federer will begin his 20th Australian Open campaign on Tuesday against world number 51 Aljaz Bedene, the former Briton who returned to playing under the Slovenian flag on 1 January.