How Australian Open's new rules can minimise first-round injury withdrawals

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Nowhere was that more evident than a year ago when Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer - supposedly past their best - triumphed to make the final, Federer eventually running out the victor in five sets.

A knee injury which has prevented Nadal from playing competitively since losing to David Goffin at the ATP Finals in November has restricted the 16-time major champion to just a pair of exhibition contests in Melbourne - a far cry from his run to the quarter-finals at the Brisbane International a year ago.

There's a potential semifinal against Djokovic, who is aiming for a record seventh Australian Open title but is seeded 14th as he returns from six months on the sidelines with a right elbow injury.

Reuters picMELBOURNE, Jan 11 ― Romania's world No.1 Simona Halep will face Australian wild card Destanee Aiava as her first round opponent at the Australian Open, while today's draw could also see her go up against Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-finals.

The five-time major victor finished 2017 ranked No. 60, meaning she missed out on a seeding for the Australian Open and could face 2016 champion Kerber in the third round.

Assuming he emerges from a likely early meeting with Adrian Mannarino (26), fifth seed Dominic Thiem may come under threat from Wawrinka (9). They know I'm a professional tennis player.

Young gun Zverev had little luck in his first Australian Open draw as a top five seed with either Wawrinka, who plays Ricardas Berankis, or Novak Djokovic potentially standing in his path in the quarter-finals.

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Djokovic and Federer must navigate past Juan Martin del Potro, David Goffin, Mischa Zverev and Alexander Zverev in their half of the draw.

Their replacement - a "lucky loser" from the qualifying tournament - will get the other 50 percent of the first-round prize money.

Caroline Wozniacki, the second seed after her resurgence in 2017 when she reached eight finals, opens against Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania in the bottom half of the draw.

Any repeat this year and he would lose the lot. Chris Kermode, executive chairman of the men's tour, the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), promised a shake-up, although he accepted the players' reasons for withdrawing. Thiem, who admittedly played far from his best, barely got a read of it.

They will also be restricted to five minutes' warm-up time on court, and another one minute before the first point.

Berdych, the 17th seed, has never lost to an Australian at a Grand Slam in seven matches.

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