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Tennis 2018 preview as six champions return to action

Andy Murray, Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic will be among those setting their sights on the Grand Slams


Tennis in 2017 was memorable for great champions Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Venus Williams turning back the clock in the Grand Slams.

The Swiss and the Spaniard shared all four Major titles while the American reached the her first finals since 2009 at Melbourne and Wimbledon.

All three had taken time out of the game and that has started a trend which will see stars be more selective about the number of tournaments play in future.

But they all will be targeting the Grand Slams.

Next year, six champions will return to action after long periods out of the game – with five planning to play at the Australian Open.

Andy Murray

Murray in action (Image: AFP)

The Scot has not played since Wimbledon because of a hip problem but played a one-set exhibition match in Abu Dhabi on Friday before flying Down Under. He now plans to to play the Brisbane International this week (starting January 1) before Melbourne. He is now ranked No.16 in the world and faces a battle to return to the top of the world.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams in action on her return to the court (Image: Anadolu)

The American superstar also returned to action in Abu Dhabi this weekend in Abu Dhabi in her first match since winning the Australian Open in January while eight weeks pregnant. Williams only gave birth to Alexis Olympia four months ago but is now targeting her 24th Grand Slam title in Melbourne to draw her level with the all-time record held by Margaret Court. If fit, she will be favourite.

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic receives treatment (Image: PA)

For so long, the super Serb was unbeatable at the Australian Open as he won five titles in six years. But the world No.12 has not played since Wimbledon with an elbow problem and he withdrew from the exhibition event in Abu Dhabi after declaring he is not yet fit. The winner of 12 Grand Slams is now in a race against time to be fit for January 15.

Maria Sharapova

The Russian reacts (Image: Getty Images North America)

The Russian's last match at the Australian Open was in the quarter-finals in 2016 – after which she tested positive for meldonium. After a 15-month suspension, she made her Grand Slam return at the US Open where she beat current world No.1 Simona Halep on her way to the fourth round. Due to injury, she played only eight tournaments last year. Now ranked world No.59, Sharapova could again face another big name in the opening rounds.

Stan Wawrinka

Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland (Image: Rex Features)

The Swiss star has won as many Grand Slam titles as Andy Murray – three. But he didn't win a match after losing the French Open final and his season ended in August to undergo two surgeries on his knee and then split after four years with his coach Magnus Norman. Stan the Man, now 32, plans to make his return in Melbourne.

Marion Bartoli

France's Marion Bartoli poses with the trophy (Image: PA)

The French star retired a month after winning Wimbledon in 2013 and then battled a life-threatening virus. But before Christmas the 33-year-old announced she will return to the game and is aiming to make her comeback at March's Miami Open.

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