Sat | Dec 10, 2016

Federer set for easy start

Published:Sunday | January 4, 2015 | 12:00 AM

BRISBANE, (AP):

Roger Federer, seeking an 18th Grand Slam title in his 18th season on tour, will ease into 2015 with a match against either a wild-card entry or a qualifier at the Brisbane International, next week.

Federer, who arrived in Australia yesterday, has a first-round bye in the Australian Open tune-up tournament. Then the 17-time Grand Slam champion will play the winner of a match between Australian wildcard entry John Millman and a yet-to-be-determined qualifier.

Australian veteran Lleyton Hewitt, who beat Federer in the final last year, will play compatriot Sam Groth in his first match, after the draw was conducted yesterday.

opposite sides of the draw

Hewitt and Federer are on opposite sides of the draw and could not meet each other until the final. Hewitt will have a tough time getting there, though, with potential matches against South African Kevin Anderson in the second round and Milos Raonic of Canada in the quarter-finals.

Federer last won a Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2012, but feels good about adding a fifth Australian Open title this year.

Coming back from a disappointing 2013, Federer won more matches (73) than any player last year and moved back to No. 2, behind Novak Djokovic.

"Overall, it was a great season for me," Federer said yesterday. "I was consistent and I was playing positive, attacking tennis just the way I want to play, and I gave myself chances at quite a few of the slams. This year, I hope I can go one step further because going close is not quite good enough."

Sharapova

On the women's side, top-seeded Maria Sharapova also has a bye and then a second-round match against either Germany's Sabine Lisicki or a qualifier.

In other warm-up events for the Australian Open, the Hopman Cup mixed-team event gets under way in Perth today with Wimbledon runner-up Eugenie Bouchard leading Canada against the Czech Republic, and Australia playing Poland in the second match.

Tomorrow, Serena Williams takes to the court for the United States against Italy, and Andy Murray is scheduled to lead Britain against France.