The draw for the January 15-28 tournament, the first grand slam of the year, takes place later on Thursday. Ideally I would have had another tournament before the start of the Open, but it was not meant to be.
"The quarters, semis at best, because I would just run into a red-hot Djokovic or Murray or Nadal or somebody and my game wasn't going to be good enough for that day - and it was".
Here's a look at some of the storylines that could define Australian Open 2018.
"If I got to play the way I did yesterday against the number five in the world. Hopefully in three or four days I will be there", he said on Thursday.
"I think he's incredibly talented - we had a great match in Miami past year and also at the Laver Cup".
Evergreen 37-year-old Venus Williams, who last won a Slam in 2008, is seeded five and has a first-round encounter with Swiss Belinda Bencic, who teamed up with Roger Federer to win the mixed teams Hopman Cup in Perth last week.
The Serb, who has built a reputation as one of the most formidable players in men's tennis, suffered a temporary blow to that status after being side-lined with an elbow problem for the past six months.
During the four months since Rafael Nadal's closing, charging, vaguely awkward, utterly effective backhand volley went through the court untouched to end the U.S. Open, the 2018 Australian Open promised a Grand Slam pretty much unparalleled.
Nadal's half notably includes Marin Cilic, Nick Kyrgios, Jack Sock and Grigor Dimitrov.
Top seed Rafael Nadal, in the other half of the draw to Djokovic and Federer, will meet Victor Estrella Burgos first. Their quarter is rounded out by fifth-seeded Dominic Thiem and ninth-seeded Stan Wawrinka, who like Djokovic has not played since Wimbledon.
Women's top seed Simona Halep of Romania faces Australian wildcard Destanee Aiava in the first round, with second seed Caroline Wozniacki starting out against Halep's compatriot Mihaela Buzarnescu.
Dimitrov acknowledged Vallverdu for helping him develop a new-found mental toughness, and the duo will hope to build on that victory at the O2 when gracing the hard courts of Melbourne - a tournament where he reached the semis a year ago. Referring to the final set of the thriller, which he won 6-3, he said: "It was an awesome final, an awesome moment for me in my life and it's great to be back here", as quoted by the Express.
Now ranked No47, she could face the 14th seed Anastasija Sevastova in the second round, Angelique Kerber - the 2016 champion - in the third round and, potentially, Garbine Muguruza, the Wimbledon champion, in the fourth round.