However, the real challenge could be Marin Cilic in the quarterfinal round (again, presuming chalk).
The flashback slam got the finish it deserved when Federer outlasted his good friend Nadal in a colossal five-set battle on Rod Laver Arena.
Andy Murray, a five-time finalist in Melbourne, is a notable absentee from the draw after undergoing hip surgery to correct an issue that has sidelined him since the quarter-finals of Wimbledon.
The Bulgarian world No.3 has long been hailed as the most likely to lead a changing of the guard and, after coming of age with victory at the 2017 ATP Tour Finals in London, Dimitrov is primed to end the decade-and-a-half-long dominance of tennis' so-called Big Four.
"Defending a title the very first time is the hard part... if you don't win, it's all dramatic but later on in life you take it as it comes, try your best and if it works out, great but if it doesn't, it just doesn't".
"I don't want to be over-confident", he said.
Both Djokovic and Wawrinka have not played a competitive match since Wimbledon of last year and have spent the last six months in recovery.
Australian hopes will rest largely on the shoulders of 17th seed Nick Kyrgios, who won the Brisbane International on Sunday but has struggled with his temperament and openly admitted to lacking dedication in recent years.
The six-time Grand Slam champion - who coached the Serb to win six of his 12 majors - expects the 36-year-old to pick up where he left off from 2017 and to be the man to beat this season.
Federer's defeat of Nadal last year was his 18th major triumph of a glittering career.
Fans who did not need to purchase tickets to watch qualifying at Melbourne Park were rewarded with even more free tennis, with Nadal taking on the world No. 5.
China's Zhang Shuai was not as lucky, drawing 2017 US Open Champ Sloane Stephens as she attempts to recreate the success of 2016 when she made the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. "I'm just going to go out there, try to weather the storm, and try to play my game", De Minaur said.
New rules reverting Grand Slams to 16 seeds from the current 32 are due to come into force in 2019. But he has already had a rough start to the season - pulling out of the Qatar Open semi-final with flu, losing to Novak Djokovic at Kooyong before pulling out as with the same virus, disrupting the world number five's build-up to the Australian Open.
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