With the Australian Open fast approaching, it’s time to take a look at the favourites to take home the first Grand Slam title of the year. Multiple players are in contention to lift the trophy, and the tournament looks set to be one of the most competitive yet. But who will reign supreme in Melbourne?
Australian Open Favourites?
The least surprising player at the top of this list is of course the reigning champion Novak Djokovic. When it comes to this tournament, his record speaks for itself. The eight-time champion has a 100% record in Australian Open finals, and when he’s at his best there is almost no beating him.
Djokovic also has huge motivation to win this title. Currently at 306 total weeks at #1, he is fast closing in on Roger Federer’s record of 310. Winning in Melbourne will greatly enhance his chances of surpassing the Swiss’ tally, and it’s a record that Djokovic is hungry to break. He also has 17 Grand Slams to his name, and will be aiming to surpass Federer and Rafael Nadal who are both on 20. Quite simply, Djokovic is the favourite to win the title. Despite this, there are a handful of players who are also in with a real chance.
The runner up in last year’s thrilling final and and the reigning US Open champion. Dominic Thiem led Djokovic by two sets to one in 2020 before eventually losing to him, but it will no doubt have been a huge learning experience. If he can put together another sensational run this year and stay focused in the important moments, he will surely be in with a chance. Having won his first Major last year will also have given him a massive confidence boost as he’ll have even more belief that he can cross the finishing line when it matters.
Thiem is one of the most dangerous players on the circuit when he’s at his best, and will undoubtedly pick up more Grand Slams in his career. He’s also beaten Djokovic five times now and twice at Grand Slams, so he knows he is more than capable of doing it again, albeit with both wins coming at the French Open. If he’s firing on all cylinders, he could well be winning his second major.
A player who can never be counted out, and the fiercest competitor on tour. Nadal is no stranger to success at the Australian Open, winning the tournament in 2009 and making four finals since. Having won all the other Grand Slams multiple times, he would become the first player since Rod Laver to have won every Grand Slam more than once.
He came agonisingly close to winning a second title here in the 2012 final against Djokovic and in the 2017 final against Federer, but lost both matches by slim margins. Currently tied with Roger Federer on 20 Grand Slams, claiming the title will be an added motivation for the Spanish legend.
Nadal has struggled against Djokovic on hard courts in recent years, not winning a match on the surface since 2013. He was blown away in the 2019 final in straight sets, and he looked completely outmatched. If they’re to face off in this year’s final, he will need to be the aggressor and at his absolute best. However, Nadal is still a strong contender as he is every year, and will be incredibly tough to beat.
A man who has proved countless times over the last two years that he is right at the top of the men’s game. At the ATP Finals last year, Medvedev beat Djokovic, Nadal and Thiem on his way to the title. His unforgettable run of tennis during the 2019 American hard court swing culminated in him reaching the US Open Final, taking Nadal to five sets in an outstanding match. He has very quickly become one of the toughest players to beat on tour, and it’s surely only a matter of time until he wins his first major.
Medvedev is yet to go beyond the fourth round at the Australian Open, so he has much to prove in Melbourne. While he may not have put together a huge run at the Australian Open yet, he is absolutely capable of doing so in the near future. If he performs at the level he produced at the ATP Finals last year, he will be a very strong challenger for the title.
An Outside Chance?
Given the talent and dominance these four players are capable of, it’s unlikely we’ll see another player triumph over them. However, tennis is always unpredictable and any top player is capable of causing an upset on their day. Stefanos Tsitsipas, who made the semi-finals in 2019, and Alexander Zverev who reached the US Open final last year, are both players who will be putting their hands up in contention for the title. However, compared to the top four, it is difficult to see either of these two winning the tournament.
Evidently, the player to beat this year is once again Novak Djokovic, and the tournament appears to be his to lose. That said, all of the favourites here are in with a chance and will be full of confidence. The Australian Open is always full of endless excitement and surprises, and this year will be no different.
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