Former Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka has declared himself ready for the 2018 edition after being sidelined from competitive tennis for six months.
Wawrinka hasn't played since Wimbledon but is confident he has recovered sufficiently from a knee injury to take his place in the first grand slam of the year starting in Melbourne on Monday.
"I'm really, really happy to be back on the Tour and seeing the sun," Wawrinka said after meeting the Open ball kids at Melbourne Park on Tuesday.
"Still a lot to do but I'm feeling really positive so looking forward to starting."
The triple grand slam champion has dropped to ninth in the world, having not played since a surprise first-round loss to Russian Daniil Medvedev at The All England Club in July.
Wawrinka aborted plans to appear at an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi late last month before arriving in Melbourne last week to begin his Open preparations.
The 32-year-old -- who beat Rafael Nadal in the 2014 Open final for his major breakthrough -- is scheduled to play Austrian world No.5 Dominic Thiem in Wednesday's Tie Break Tens, a fast-format exhibition event at Margaret Court Arena.
"For me, the first thing is to play a match, to play a tennis match again. It's been many months out of the tour," Wawrinka said.
"It's not always the best when you are an athlete so I'm looking forward to it, enjoying the crowd.
"It's always an amazing atmosphere here. The people love the sport, love the tennis so I always enjoy to share that with them."
With defending women's champion Serena Williams, fellow former world No.1 and two-time winner Victoria Azarenka and five-times men's runner-up Andy Murray already ruled out, Open tournament director Craig Tiley welcomed Wawrinka's declaration.
"There's been a lot of questions (around Stan) and in fact this is the first time publicly in six months that he's said anything, so we are excited that he agreed to come here and do it with the ball kids," Tiley said.
"So he's ready to play. I've watched him practice.
"Obviously to play best-of-five-set matches and to play seven of them in two weeks, he'd need to have a lot of things go his way.
"But, as he indicated this morning, he will be ready to play and it's great to see him out here."