Djokovic in action on day of returns in Melbourne

Roger Federer

Johanna Konta made a confident start to her campaign but Heather Watson is out, while there were wins for Maria Sharapova and world number one Simona Halep, who will hope a rolled ankle does not prove a hindrance to her title bid.

Poor Bedene, no mean performer at world number 51, can now at least say he has witnessed Federer's brilliance first hand, having never previously faced him.

"I think then because of our results, we just back ourselves".

"I am not sure it will go as well [as 2017] because I'm a year older, Rafa's looking in tip-top shape and others guys are coming back".

As Andre Agassi and Radek Stepanek, Djokovic's coaching team, looked on, while the Serb flexed his elbow with a rope, over his head and side to side, time after time as he completed the final preparations for his much-anticipated return.

"I saw that some of you have written a story that has been a bit exaggerated and you've taken things out of context and you've portrayed me as someone who is very greedy and asked for more money and asked for a boycott", Djokovic said.

Djokovic also said that equal prize money, a subject that continues to bubble beneath the surface, was not discussed.

"There were certain parts of the match, maybe in the third set, where I didn't capitalise on all these opportunities, break points, match points". "Maybe I should have approached these kind of points with a bit more intensity and aggression".

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"I still have some pain". "It's great to be back". It depends the way I'm moving, how I push on it.

"Things are going in the right direction".

Thiem, who reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros in 2016, will play American qualifier Denis Kudla in the second round.

"I'm just enjoying it on court again", Kerber said. I'm going to focus on the tournament.

While Federer begins his title defence against Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene in primetime on Rod Laver Arena, Djokovic and Sharapova will make their bows on Margaret Court Arena.

"It's been a couple of years and I wanted it to be really meaningful to me".

Young gun Alexander Zverev, seeded four, Belgian seventh seed David Goffin, and dark horse Tomas Berdych were among men to make the second round. In women's first round affairs, sixth-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova knocked out Paraguay's Veronica Cepede Royg 6-3, 6-4; ninth seed Johanna Konta beat American Madison Brengle 6-3, 6-1; former No.1 Angelique Kerber dismissed fellow German Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-0, 6-4.

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