Nadal begins new era without mentor Toni in Australia

Nadal begins new era without mentor Toni in Australia

Novak Djokovic is back on course to play this month's Australian Open after coming through his first match in almost six months in the victory over Dominic Thiem at Kooyong. With both he and Swiss great Roger Federer dominating the major tournament throughout the past decade, it comes as a relief to fans that he appears healthy.

Djokovic has not played since his quarter-final exit at Wimbledon as a result of a persistent elbow injury. He is, however, in Melbourne and gearing up for play.

"And of course, in our 30th anniversary edition, it will be incredible to have two of the all-time greats on the famous Kooyong centre court, and that's before we even mention the other names in the top ten we have this year". Nadal was naturally rusty after his extended break but he looked free from his notorious knee problems and is by no means alone in heading to the Australian Open after injury troubles.

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The Australian Open is to mark the start of Nadal's season, following his withdrawal from the ATP Brisbane tournament in the first week of the regular tennis season.

This year's Grand Slam at Melbourne Park will provide some insight into Djokovic's status.

He will face Austrian world No.6 Dominic Thiem on Wednesday before taking part in the Tie Break Tens fast-format tournament that evening alongside Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal. The Spanish superstar is another top player who has been dealing with lingering injuries. Last actionNadal, 31, became the oldest player to end the year as world number one although the stresses and strain on his body finally took their toll when he had to pull out of the ATP World Tour Finals in November after losing his opening round match. It goes without saying that everyone would like to see the most competitive field possible for the upcoming Grand Slam at Melbourne Park.

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