Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka ready and looking forward to Australian Open

Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka ready and looking forward to Australian Open

Former victor Stan Wawrinka also said yesterday he's hungry to return to action at the Australian Open after six months on the sidelines.

Former champions Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka have not only confirmed their participation but also stated that they are looking forward to the tournament starting next week.

Serb Novak Djokovic, a six-time Australian Open champion, may also miss out with an elbow injury. She was scheduled to play in the ASB Classic in Auckland before heading to Melbourne to prepare for the Australian Open.

The 23 time Grand Slam victor made a return to the big stage at an exhibition at Abu Dhabi last month where she lost to the French Open champ Jelena Ostapenko. She has also got married in that time, but the way she played in an exhibition in Abu Dhabi last week gave real encouragement to those who so desperately wanted to see her defend her title at this year's Australia Open. He further added, "It's not always the best when you are an athlete so I'm looking forward to it, enjoying the crowd".

In the intervening years, her career has been no less exemplary-just for different reasons.

"With that being said, and even though I am disappointed about it, I've decided not to compete in the Australian Open this year".

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Other star players, including top-ranked Rafael Nadal, six-time champion Novak Djokovic and 2014 victor Stan Wawrinka, also are dealing with injuries. It was the 2008 Wimbledon final against her little sister, Serena.

Venus has returned and is playing in Sydney next week to prepare for the Australian Open, which begins January 15.

"The memory of last year's Open is one that I will carry with me, and Olympia and I look forward to coming back again", she said.

"It's unfortunate that [Azarenka] is unable to travel to Australia this year", Australian Open director Craig Tiley tweeted.

"I've been in constant with Serena and her team and know this is why she has pushed it and pushed it until the 11th hour to make her final decision", he said.

Her Open lead-in included last week's Shenzhen Open, where she made the semi-finals before a 6-2 3-6 6-3 loss to Katerina Siniakova.