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Roger Federer to open title defence against Aljaz Bedene, Zverev brothers could meet in third round

Federer placed in dauntingly tough half of Australian Open draw

11/01/2018 at 08:48Updated 11/01/2018 at 15:43

Roger Federer will open his Australian Open title defence against Slovenian Aljaz Bedene.

Federer has been drawn in the same quarter of the draw as dangerous 'floaters' Milos Raonic and Juan Martin del Potro, while the biggest threat to his progress to the quarter-finals is seventh-seed David Goffin, who beat the Swiss star in the ATP Finals in November.

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Alex Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka, Gael Monfils and Tomas Berdych are all in Federer's half of the draw.

World number one Rafa Nadal has been handed a more favourable draw, opening against Victor Estrella Burgos and with Marin Cilic the biggest threat in his quarter of the draw. Nadal would also avoid both Federer and Djokovic until the final.

Video - Federer's 2017 Australian Open triumph: In his own words

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One highlight of the draw is a possible third-round meeting of the Zverev brothers - Mischa and Alex. The latter is one of the rising stars of the game, but faces the prospect of having to beat his sibling and Novak to even reach the quarter-finals.

Britain's sole representative Kyle Edmund will face big-serving US Open runner-up Kevin Anderson in the first round.

Federer joined the presentation team on court in Melbourne for Thursday's draw and spoke candidly about his victory in the same stadium a year ago:

"I thought my game wasn’t going to be good enough for that day and it was. That fifth set against Rafa was maybe the best set I’ve ever played. It was definitely my highlight of 2017."
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