Craig Tiley says Maria Sharapova deserving of draw ceremony invite

Saturday, 13 Jan, 2018

But Tiley insisted there were no mixed messages, citing Sharapova's status as a former champion, with the Russian lifting the trophy 10 years ago.

As global media slammed the decision to have Sharapova walk the trophy on court, tournament director Craig Tiley defended the Open's stance - and the five-time grand slam champion.

The only other former victor in this year's tournament, Angelique Kerber, was not available as she was preparing for her semi-final clash at the Sydney International.

'We wanted to have a former champion, ' Tiley explained. "In fairness to Maria, the adjudication has occurred on that", he said when asked about her drugs suspension and whether her presence at the ceremony was appropriate. "She deserved the opportunity".

Unseeded Sharapova and Germany's Angelique Kerber (seeded 21) are the only two players at this year's Australian Open, who won the tournament on previously.

Sharapova was previously snubbed by the French Open past year after they refused to hand her a wildcard on moral grounds.

The appearance of Maria Sharapova - who served a 15-month ban for using banned substance meldonium - at the Australian Open draw reveal has drawn criticism.

With reigning champion Serena Williams missing the tournament, organisers chose Sharapova to represent the women. "It's for anyone to grab. And here I am in a sport that has given me so much - and I hope to have a family too".

Federer was back at the scene of his remarkable triumph 12 months ago and rated the deciding set he won to beat Nadal in the final as the best of his career. I never contemplated retiring but when I was a teenager I never thought I'd play past 30 years old.

"It was a huge surprise".

Six-time champion Novak Djokovic is only seeded 14th after his lengthy absence with elbow problems and was handed a tricky draw.