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Australian Open

14.01.2006 | Tennis

 

Roger is the overwhelming favorite at the injury-depleted Australian Open that starts on Monday. “I’m used to it,” Roger said this week. “Red hot or hot favorite — it really doesn’t matter.”

 

It is the eighth time in Roger's career, since Roland Garros 2004, that Roger holds the number one position at a Grand Slam.

 

Roger's chances look good, since the men’s field is missing defending champion Marat Safin, second-ranked Rafael Nadal and four-time winner Andre Agassi. “I don’t have to raise the bar” to keep winning, said Roger. “I have to stay hungry — that’s not too hard.”

 

Roger has lost twice in the last six Grand Slam tournaments, dating back to Wimbledon 2004. Both his conquerers decided they weren’t in any kind of shape to repeat such a feat at Melbourne Park. Safin was lauded for his unpredictable genius when he upset Roger in last year’s semifinals and went on to beat local favorite Lleyton Hewitt in the final. Nadal was at his precocious peak when he overcame Federer on the red Roland Garros clay one match before he clinched the French Open title.

 

Safin and Nadal pulled out with lingering knee and foot injuries, leaving Andy Roddick and Hewitt as Roger’s main rivals.

 

“It might be Roger versus the field, but for the rest of us, it’s us versus our first-round opponent,” said Andy Roddick. “He obviously made it like that by playing so well over the last couple of years.

 

Roger will face Denis Istomin, number 195 in the world ranking, in the opening round on Monday. "I've never heard about him, so I can't tell you anything on the subject. I'll go and find out."

 
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