The year 2017 proved to be a remarkable one for veterans Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who shared four Grand Slam titles between them — winning two each.
At the start of the year, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic were on top of the ATP charts. However, Federer and Nadal defied odds and climbed the ladder to finish the year on top.
Cut to January 2018, and the two seasoned campaigners, who share 35 Grand Slam titles between them, are once again starting favourites to win the Australian Open, the season's first major, starting Monday (January 15).
Doubts over Djokovic and Stanislas Wawrinka's fitness remain, and Murray has pulled out citing persistent hip issues.
Nadal, Federer eye another Grand Slam title
Nadal starts as the top seed and will open his campaign against 37-year-old Victor Estrella Burgos. The Spaniard though doesn't seem to be fully ready for the upcoming Melbourne test as he had pulled out of the season-opening Brisbane International citing a knee injury. He returned to action at a non-tour event — Kooyong Classic — and lost his first match there to Richard Gasquet on Tuesday, January 9.
On the other hand, Federer is looking set for the hunt of his 20th Grand Slam title after having won the Hopman Cup for Switzerland earlier this month.
Meanwhile, former world number one Djokovic, who starts as the 14th seed, returns to action after a six-month layoff. He is drawn in the same half as Federer and is likely to face Alexander Zverev in the quarter-final.
India's Yuki Bhambri has made the main draw of the competition for the third time in his career. The 25-year-old won the third and final qualifying match on Sunday.
Halep, Venus among top seeds
In the women's singles field, Romania's Simona Halep starts as the top seed. She will face Destanee Aiava in the first round. In the absence of last year's winner Serena Williams, runner-up Venus starts her campaign against Belinda Bencic.
On the other hand, Maria Sharapova, who is still awaiting an impactful Grand Slam run following her return from a doping ban last year, takes on unseeded Tatjana Maria of Germany in her first-round outing.
Seeding information (Top 16 seeds)
|Men's singles||Women's singles|
|1. Rafael Nadal||1. Simona Halep|
|2. Roger Federer||2. Caroline Wozniacki|
|3. Grigor Dimitrov||3. Garbine Muguruza|
|4. Alexander Zverev||4. Elina Svitolina|
|5. Dominic Thiem||5. Venus Williams|
|6. Marin Cilic||6. Karolina Pliskova|
|7. David Goffin||7. Jelena Ostapenko|
|8. Jack Sock||8. Caroline Garcia|
|9. Stan Wawrinka||9. Johanna Konta|
|10. Pablo Carreno Busta||10. CoCo Vandeweghe|
|11. Kevin Anderson||11. Kristina Mladenovic|
|12. Juan Martin del Potro||12. Julia Goerges|
|13. Sam Querrey||13. Sloane Stephens|
|14. Novak Djokovic||14. Anastasija Sevastova|
|15. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga||15. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova|
|16. John Isner||16. Elena Vesnina|
TV Listings and Live streaming
India: TV: Sony Six; Live streaming: Sony Liv
Australia: TV: Channel Seven; Live streaming: 7plus
US: TV: ESPN; Live streaming: Watch ESPN
UK: TV: Eurosport, BBC; Live streaming: Watch Eurosport
Switzerland: TV: SSR, SRG
Canada: TV: TSN
Africa: TV: BeIN Sports
Singapore and South East Asia: TV: Fox Sports
New Zealand: TV: Sky Sport
Japan: TV: NHK, WOWOW