SHOWS: MELBOURNE, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA (JANUARY 18, 2020) (TENNIS AUSTRALIA - FOR NEWS PURPOSES ONLY. NO ARCHIVE. NO RESALES)
1. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ROGER FEDERER, SPEAKING ABOUT HIS FIRST ROUND OPPONENT, STEVE JOHNSON, SAYING:
"I'm happy to be back in Australia. I'm happy to be playing here. Of course, I love it. Look, it's exactly the tricky situation right now, playing somebody who's just played a lot this week. He's ready to go. He's a match ready. And I'm not. So I've got to really make sure I get out of the gates quick. Practice has been going well. I've got plenty of time to pace myself and and do all the things I had to do to get ready. I hope it's enough. I know it's a super long road to victory, and that's why I've got to take it one match at a time and my expectations are quite low. But now I'm excited to play Steve. He's a good guy and, I think with his old school playing, big forehand slice backhand, good serve, I think it's going to be a nice match for me as well."
STORY: Fears of disruption to the Australian Open from bushfire smoke receded on Saturday (January 18) but some players were clearly concerned about the conditions their colleagues were forced to play in earlier in the week.
But six times Australian champion Roger Federer played down the dangers to the players compared to the people living in the region and the emergency services dealing with the blazes.
Victoria's Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) rated the air quality in central Melbourne as "good" on Saturday morning and "moderate" in the afternoon, and the final round of qualifying was completed on schedule.
That was in stark contrast to earlier rounds of the qualifying tournament on Tuesday and Wednesday when players complained of breathing problems and Slovenia's Dalila Jakupovic was forced to retire after a coughing fit.
More than 100 bushfires were still burning in eastern Australia on Saturday despite storms now lashing many of the areas destroyed by the conflagrations that have killed 29 people and millions of animals since September.
Federer, who took the Melbourne crown in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2017 and 2018, rates his first round opponent, American Steve Johnson, as a tough challenge.