Novak Djokovic is the heavy favorite to win the Australian Open next week, and his gloomy form stands in stark contrast to Rafael Nadal’s struggles.
Djokovic was deported on the eve of the Grand Slam a year after losing a legal battle over his belief in the Covid vaccination. It allowed Nadal, his fierce rival, to take advantage of the Melbourne Park hardcourts and win a record 21st major title with a thrilling five-set victory over Daniil Medvedev in the final.
When he won the French Open, the 36-year-old made it 22 years in a row.
If Djokovic of Serbia, who is one year younger, wins the Australian Open for the tenth time, he will tie the record for 22 Grand Slam titles.
He called his preparations perfect before calling a practice match against Medvedev early on Wednesday to avoid a hamstring injury.
Australia is a great place to play. That is clear from the results I got.
Djokovic is without a doubt the one to beat because of his recent accomplishments, as well as Nadal’s inconsistent form, the absence of injured world number one Carlos Alcaraz, and Roger Federer’s retirement last year.
He won the ATP Finals, after ending turbulent 2022, and won the Adelaide International trophy on Sunday after winning five difficult matches.
After the deportation saga, he was worried that Australia would treat him badly, but he got a warm welcome in Adelaide.
In his first match, Djokovic takes on Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena, who is ranked 75th.
Nadal has previously been ruled out, but he is currently facing new inquiries regarding whether age and injury are catching up to him.
The tough first match of the top seed’s title defense is against the promising 21-year-old Briton Jack Draper.
The great tennis player from Spain, Nadal, has lost six of his last seven matches, including two at the United Cup, to Cameron Norrie and Alex de Minaur, respectively.
Nadal insisted that he was unconcerned by his recent struggles, and he is attempting to join Roger Federer and Ken Rosewall as men’s major winners over the age of 36.
I absolutely need to win matches, but my preparation is going well, I practice a lot, and I believe I am in good shape.
“No one is invincible”: Russia’s Medvedev, who finished second in 2021 and 2022, is the best candidate among the others.
Despite having a love-hate relationship with the Melbourne crowd, the 2021 US Open champion defeated Nadal in the final the previous year.
Stefanos Tsitsipas, the fourth-ranked player in the world, is also a threat because the Greek star wants to improve on his three semi-final appearances in Melbourne over the past four years.
Tsitsipas won all four matches at the United Cup, defeating the dangerous Italian Matteo Berrettini. He was still looking for his first Grand Slam.
After a breakthrough in 2022 that saw him reach the French and US Open finals, Norway’s world number three, Casper Ruud, is another player looking to break the Djokovic-Nadal monopoly.
And then there’s Nick Kyrgios, the home favorite and Wimbledon finalist who has a lot of talent but has often been disappointed because of his personality.
Djokovic, who defeated Kyrgios in the Wimbledon decider and could face him in the last eight in Melbourne, stated, “No one is invincible.”