Roger Federer identifies his potential rivals for the Australian Open

2018 Australian Open - Day 4

Defending champion Roger Federer has been keeping a watchful eye over his potential opponents who could threaten to derail his chances of a sixth Australian Open title.

The Swiss star comfortably beat Jan-Lennard Struff in straight sets on Thursday to reach the third round and will now not face another seeded player prior to the quarters, following the early exits of both Milos Raonic and Sam Querrey.

However, at the age of 36, Federer has refused to talk up his own chances and has labelled long-term rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic as the favourites - in spite of their own previous injury problems.

Injury forced Nadal forced out of last month’s ATP finals whilst Djokovic, a record six-time winner at Melbourne, warranted only a 14th seeding after more than six months out with an elbow injury.

Nevertheless, the Serb came through in four sets against Gael Monfils in searing temperatures of up to 40 centigrade and Federer mentioned him among three other players who have impressed him during the opening week of the tournament.

“Novak seems good to me, coming through the heat today. I think that was a good test for him. Should definitely give him confidence," he said, per The Metro.

"Zverev seems also to be in good shape. Rafa the same.

"I think the suspects, the usual suspects, that we thought could win the tournament, seem to be around. DelPo (Juan Martin del Potro) is also in good shape.

TENNIS-AUS-OPEN

One man Federer will not be facing, though, is compatriot Stan Wawrinka.

The three-time Grand Slam winner crashed out in straight sets to American Tennys Sandgren, ranked 97th in the world.

Wawrinka was a major doubt for the tournament following knee surgery and appeared to be wincing in pain and flexing the knee joint during the second round defeat.

TENNIS-AUS-OPEN

Federer continued: ‘With Stan, we saw he’s definitely not at 100% yet.

"I did say the first two matches you’re going to see who’s doing well and not so well.

"Should be an interesting tournament. I’m happy I’m still part of it really”.

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