Roger Federer plays his first competitive match since June in the Monday night session, taking on qualifier Jurgen Melzer on Rod Laver Arena. The five time champion continues to find that 18th slam elusive and will find it even harder this time round, having to do so from a seeding of 17.
Injury cut his season short after Wimbledon and he would not be seen until the Hopman Cup at the start of the year. He went 2-1 in singles play there, losing a three setter to Alexander Zverev while defeating Richard Gasquet and Dan Evans.
In regards to his preparation for Melbourne, Federer said “It felt really good. Then practice was more about just managing, maintaining, not overtraining, but nevertheless still play enough to get used to the conditions here again, even though it’s the same.”
Melzer has had a journey to get back to the main draw of a grand slam after serious injury saw him fall outside the top 500. After nearly a year out, he spent the rest of 2016 slogging away on the Challenger Tour and in qualifying rounds for main draw ATP events. He will still be way outside the top 300 but is on the right track if his run through qualifying is anything to go by.
Federer is 3-1 at professional level against Melzer although they haven’t played since 2011 where the Austrian came out on top in Monte Carlo. Melzer was a top 10 player at the time of that match, showing the difference that 5 years make even with both players the same age.
The winner will play an American qualifier in round two – the winner of Noah Rubin and Bjorn Fratangelo. While we will have to wait and see what Federer’s true 2017 level is, round one should not see him in trouble.
Roger Federer in straight sets
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