Fired up Federer resumes hunt for seventh Aussie title


MELBOURNE: Roger Federer says his serve is as good as it´s ever been and his body is in top shape going into round two of the Australian Open Wednesday, where Rafael Nadal and Caroline Wozniacki are also in action.

The Swiss maestro might be 37 but he is not feeling his age, with Britain’s Daniel Evans in his sights on Rod Laver Arena as he works his way towards a third successive title at Melbourne Park.

“I think I can be happy how I got out of the blocks from the off-season,” he said. “I feel really good about it,” he added of his serve. “My body is in good shape.”

Federer has won the last two Australian Opens in a late-career resurgence and is now angling for a 21st major victory.

His achievements so far put him on a par with other six-time winners Novak Djokovic and Roy Emerson — although the Australian great´s victories all came before the Open era.

His long-time rival and 17-time Grand Slam winner Nadal takes on local hope Matthew Ebden in a night match.

The Spaniard is bidding for his own slice of history by becoming the first man in the Open era, and only the third in history along with Emerson and Rod Laver, to win each Grand Slam on two or more occasions.

“Every day makes me feel better, makes me feel more confident,” said the 2009 Melbourne winner, who cut short his 2018 season to have surgery on a foot injury.

Danish defending champion Wozniacki, who is battling rheumatoid arthritis, is bidding to become the first woman to defend the title since Victoria Azarenka in 2013.

She has a clash on Margaret Court Arena against Sweden´s Johanna Larsson.

Another former champion, Maria Sharapova, is also back on the court after her 6-0, 6-0 “double bagel” opening round statement.

The Russian also faces a Swede in Rebecca Peterson, someone she has never played before.

“So that´s, you know, it´s kind of tricky and a challenge,” she said.

Second seed and 2016 champion Angelique Kerber resumes her tournament against Brazil´s Beatriz Haddad Maia while fifth seed Sloane Stephens takes on Timea Babos.