Former Swedish tennis player Robin Soderling has backed Roger Federer to reclaim the Australian Open in 2018 ahead of arch rival Rafael Nadal. The Swiss ace clinched the title this year beating Nadal in the finals, overpowering the Spaniard in a gruelling contest.
He also expects the likes of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic to do well after returning to the court on the back of a year harried by injuries. Both players missed major parts of the campaign on the sidelines and will be looking to make a fresh start in the upcoming season.
The Serb and the Scot are currently recovering from elbow and hip injuries, respectively, and have not played competitively since their loss at Wimbledon in July this year. Djokovic and Murray decided to end their season early and focus on getting back to full fitness, similar to what Federer did last season.
Their absence was well exploited by Federer and Nadal, who won a combined 13 titles this year, including equally sharing all four Grand Slams. The Spaniard had the last laugh, finishing the year as the world no.1 ahead of Federer but, Soderling believes that the Swiss would have taken the title if he had not skipped the clay courts along the way.
"I wouldn't be surprised if Novak and Andy do well, but I think Federer [win the Australian Open]. When Federer played his best last year, no one could match it. Not even Nadal. Rafa finished the year world No.1, but if Roger would have played the clay season he would have finished as No.1," Soderling told Tennis Smash.
Federer's biggest takeaway from the year was his ability to manage his fitness, which came with playing fewer games and choosing his tournaments intelligently. However, he has revealed that he regrets missing out on the majority of the clay tournaments and hopes to be back in the mix in the upcoming season.
However, Federer dropped a major hint recently that he may consider skipping the French Open, with the other three Grand Slams being the cornerstone around which his season will revolve.