Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic of Switzerland celebrate their finals win at the Hopman Cup.
Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic of Switzerland celebrate their finals win at the Hopman Cup. Tony McDonough

Federer primed for Open defence

ANDY Murray and Kei Nishikori are sidelined completely. And injury clouds remain over Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

Come on down Roger Federer ... once again.

The Swiss master and current world No.2 says he is primed to defend his Australian Open crown.

The 36-year-old will head into Melbourne brimming with confidence on the back after claiming yet another title - this time the Hopman Cup for Switzerland in Perth.

The 19-time grand slam winner won all four of his singles matches at the mixed-teams event, and combined with Belinda Bencic to defeat Germany 2-1 in the final.

"It caps off a great week as a team, but personally for me as a singles player, I played great,” Federer said.

He beat world No.4 Alexander Zverev, world No.8 Jack Sock, Japan's Yuichi Sugita, and Russian Karen Khachanov at the Hopman Cup.

"Now I just have to pace myself all the way up to the tournament in Melbourne, and I'll be ready.

"I'm just excited going back to Melbourne where I had my fairytale run last year. It was crazy.

"It's great to be the defending champion. I take it the right way. I won't put extra pressure on myself, regardless of who's going to play, or not play.

"For me it's just important to be in a good mindset, well prepared, and ready to go. And I feel like I am ready.”

It's a stark contrast to 12 months ago when Federer was returning from a six-month layoff after struggling with a knee injury.

He ended up beating world No.1 Nadal in the final before claiming the Wimbledon crown later in the year.

With Murray (hip) and Nishikori (wrist) out of action, and Djokovic (elbow) and Nadal (knee) struggling to reach full fitness, Federer is the Australian Open favourite - 14 years after winning the grand slam for the first time.

Nadal, meanwhile, will have his final tune-up for the Australian Open at Kooyong.

In a massive coup for the event, the Kooyong Classic will feature Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

"Rafa was looking for match play and of course we were more than happy to oblige,” tournament director Peter Johnston said.

"The addition of both Novak and Rafa changes our schedule and the way we will run the four days but that's what Kooyong is all about, we are here to help the players get ready for the Open.

Australian Bernard Tomic will also play in a special exhibition match on Tuesday.



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