Australian hopes will rest largely on the shoulders of 17th seed Nick Kyrgios, who won the Brisbane International on Sunday but has struggled with his temperament and openly admitted to lacking dedication in recent years.
Serena's thirty-seven-year-old sister, Venus, has risen to fourth in the world and participated in three major finals last year: Australia, Wimbledon, and the year-end Championships. It's a spirit perhaps inspired by art of the surrealist artist René Magritte, to whom the Magritte Museum is dedicated.
Johnson, a semfinalist in Auckland last year, looked on target for an easy win when he swept through the first set against Bautista Agut in 35 minutes.
Djokovic says Federer is deserved favourite.
Few people would disagree that playing five-setters, especially for the players who tend to go deep at the majors, does the joints, ligaments and muscles no favors. The Flemish Masters of today are generating considerable excitement in fields as diverse as fashion, food, beer brewing and music.
Thiem, however, looked so disinterested it was hard to read too much into it, and he lost 10-6 in a tiebreak to Lleyton Hewitt later in the day.
"I don't usually like going to draws, I just want to see the sheet". The 37-year-old rallied again but succumbed to the inevitable on Kerber's fifth match point, sending a backhand return wide. Battling illness, the Argentinian came back from the dead against Dominic Thiem before shocking Roger Federer and went on to finish the season very strongly. I haven't played in six months. Talented No. 18 seed Ashleigh Barty or Japanese Naomi Osaka - who hits a big ball - could lie ahead in the fourth round before potential quarter-final showdowns with either Karolina Pliskova or Johanna Konta.
Women's top seed Simona Halep of Romania faces Australian wildcard Destanee Aiava in the first round, with second seed Caroline Wozniacki starting out against Halep's compatriot Mihaela Buzarnescu.
Federer, even at 36, is the rightful Australian Open favorite after appearing fresh and sharp in the Hopman Cup team event.
"Family was something I always wanted when I got together with Mirka, way back when in Sydney at the Olympics in 2000, and my whole life changed completely and it's the best thing that ever happened to me". Chris Kermode, executive chairman of the men's tour, the Association of Tennis Professionals, promised a shake-up, although he accepted the players' reasons for withdrawing.
"You keep her in the Hall of Fame", said Navratilova, an activist and one of the first prominent athletes to come out as a lesbian. "The legs feel good so it's all about putting it in on the court now". An extension of the trend is not out of the question with Maria Sharapova unseeded in Melbourne.
"If you really need it, do it for the finals, the semifinals, but this is unnecessary for the guys", she said. If Bellis can make it into can make it past the third round then it will be a true demonstration of her potential.
There is also the Plexicushion court to consider, which, in spite of repeated denials by the authorities, looked faster than ever last year. CiCi Bellis is one of the most promising young women on tour having reached the US Open second round at the age of just 15, and has reached the third round of both the French and US Opens in her short career.