In Melbourne, the double defending champion Roger Federer will start his bid for a hat-trick of Australian Open titles next week against unseeded Uzbek Denis Istomin, who caused a huge upset when he defeated Novak Djokovic in the second round two years ago.
The draw for the first Grand Slam of the season was made on Thursday and the top seeds could face some early tests of their credentials when play gets underway in Melbourne on Monday.
The six-times Australian Open champion Federer, who beat Marin Cilic in last year’s final, could meet the Croat in the quarter-finals, should the Swiss come through a potentially tricky fourth round against Greek prospect Stefanos Tsitsipas.
“I always have tried to remind myself that this is a dream,” Federer said of his longevity at the draw ceremony held at Margaret Court Arena, where he discovered the world number 99 would be his opening opponent.
The 2009 champion Nadal, who retired hurt in the quarter-finals against Cilic last year, could meet old rival Federer in the last four should his body hold up.
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Interesting facts about Roger Federer
- In 1998, he won the Junior Wimbledon, where he won both the boys’ and singles final. Later that year, he lost the US Open Junior final to David Nalbandian. He won 4 ITF junior singles tournaments in his career.
- In 1999, he entered the top 100 rankings in tennis. He played his first final at the Marseille Open in 2000, which he lost to Marc Rosset. His first title came in 1999 on the Challenger tour; winning the doubles event in Spain, and in 2001, he won his first singles title in Milan Indoor tournament, against Julien Boutter.
- At the 2001 Wimbledon, he erupted as a sensation by knocking out the great Pete Sampras in the 4th round.
- Two years after his Wimbledon debut, Federer became the first Swiss man to win a Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2003, against Mark Philippoussis.
- In 2006, Federer won 12 singles titles with an impressive match record of 92–5. Federer reached 16 of the 17 finals during this season.
- With the earning around $78 million (as in 2018), he is counted amongst the richest sports personalities ever. He possesses luxurious houses and villas in Dubai, Swiss village of Valbella, and in Wollerau, south of Zurich.
- With 20 Grand Slam titles, he’s certainly one of the best players that tennis has ever produced.