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The waiting is almost over for tennis fans.The Australian Open, the first grand slam of the 2018 season, start...

Posted: Jan 11, 2018 3:18 PM
Updated: Jan 11, 2018 3:18 PM

The waiting is almost over for tennis fans.

The Australian Open, the first grand slam of the 2018 season, starts Monday with everyone wondering if Roger Federer can repeat his remarkable victory 12 months ago.

The Swiss will be gunning for a 20th grand slam title, but following Thursday's draw, the heat will be on for the 36-year-old in Melbourne.

Federer has a seemingly simple opener against 51st-ranked Slovenian Aljaz Bedene, but he might be made to sweat after that.

Lying in wait on his half of the draw are potential match ups against fellow Swiss, and 2014 winner Stan Wawrinka, Dominic Thiem, Gael Monfils, Juan Martin del Potro, and six-time champ Novak Djokovic.

With no Andy Murray -- the Scot recently underwent hip surgery -- things look much easier, on paper at least, for 2017's beaten finalist Rafael Nadal.

The biggest threat to the Spaniard looks likely to come from the towering presence of the big-serving Croat Marin Cilic.

For more details on this year's draw go here

The tournament's official website can be found here

Can Maria triumph in Serena's absence?

Serena Williams may not be around to defend her title this year but sister Venus will be looking to go one better to claim a fifth singles title Down Under. 2017's beaten finalist is up against Belinda Bencic in the opening round.

READ: After Serena gave birth, 'Everything went bad'

Elsewhere, all eyes will be on Maria Sharapova as she returns for only her second grand slam tournament since serving a drugs ban.

The 2008 champion and current world No. 47 kicks off her campaign against a player ranked one place higher, Germany's Tatjana Maria.

Iceberg ahead!

From the searing heat of an Australian summer to the cold, hard reality of life at sea.

French sailor Francois Gabart smashed the solo round-the-world record last year, shaving six days off the previous record set by compatriot Thomas Colville.

Speaking to CNN, Gabart recalled his epic 42-day journey including a close encounter with an iceberg in the wilds of the Pacific Ocean.

"It was the scariest moment of this race ... you are far away from any humans and safety," he said.

"It's dangerous and if something bad happens in this part of the world, you could be in a tricky situation."

READ: Around the world in 42 days

F1 eyes Danish street race

Copenhagen is well known for its love of bicycles but its pristine environment could be about to become a petrol head's playground.

F1 boss Chase Carey has given the thumbs up to a new proposal that would see world champion Lewis Hamilton and co. chasing around the streets of the Danish capital.

"We're excited about the opportunity to explore a potential race here in Denmark," Carey said.

Alongside Finland, Scandinavia has contributed many quality drivers to F1 down the years so perhaps the time is ripe for F1 to explore Europe's northern territories.

READ: F1 boss 'excited' about Copenhagen GP plan

50 not out -- well played ...

Last, but by no means least, we salute Japanese footballer Kazuyoshi Miura.

Channeling the spirit of English football legend Stanley Matthews, 50-year-old Miura has signed a new contract with Yokohama FC, extending his career to a mind-boggling 33 seasons.

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