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Sunday, January 29, 2023

Australian Open men’s singles preview, predictions: Djokovic returns as clear favourite, but can anyone stop him?

FeaturedSports NewsAustralian Open men's singles preview, predictions: Djokovic returns as clear favourite, but can anyone stop him?

Holger Rooney remains the only player to lose. Novak Djokovic Since his return in October last year. The Serb played four tournaments until the end of 2022, reaching the final in all, but was held off by the young Danish international in Paris Bercy to claim his first Masters 1000 title. It certainly takes a lot to get past an in-form Djokovic. Add to that, one of his favorite venues where he has won six titles, and the difficulty level automatically skyrockets. But Djokovic is a different animal at Melbourne Park. Last time they lost a match. Australian Open In 2018 it was by an unheralded Chung Hyun in the fourth round.

The 35-year-old, who has since won all three editions played in Melbourne, returned to Australia, hungrier than ever, after the Covid drama. And with last week’s Adelaide 250 title, Djokovic is the clear favorite for the Slam. But can anyone stop it?

First quarter:

All the talk about Djokovic, but this is it Rafael Nadal Joe is the defending champion and top seed at Melbourne Park. There is no routine at the Australian Open. The first since 2010, of course. And unlike in 2022, Nadal is going into the tournament without any injury concerns this time around, making him one of the favorites to surely stop a red-hot Djokovic.

Also read: ‘Djokovic is the man to beat at the Australian Open,’ says Somdevdevvarman. ‘Nadal hasn’t found his form yet’

However, the Spanish have been given a very difficult draw. He will start against 21-year-old Jack Draper, who has shown good form of late, including in Adelaide last week, and is also left-handed. In the second round, Nadal could potentially face Brendan Nakashima, the winner of the 2022 Next Gen Finals. Frances Tiafoe awaits in the fourth round if he manages to get past the two youngsters, the only player to beat Nadal at a Grand Slam last year. The winner meets last year’s finalist Daniil Medvedev in the quarters. But the Russian will have a hard time overcoming in-form Sebastian Korda, who earned a third-round match point against Djokovic in last week’s Adelaide final.

Semi-finalists: Nadal

Second quarter:

There are two top 10 seeded players in this part of the draw – Stefanos Tsitsipas and Felix Auger-Aliasime. The Greek may have blown the hot and cold during 2022, though the exchange ended on a high note with a win at the World Tennis Championships, and may not have ignited that spark at a Grand Slam just yet. It may have shown, but Tsitsipas has been quite impressive at Melbourne Park. He has made three semifinals in the past four Australian Open editions, his only setback being a third-round exit to Milos Raonic in 2020.

Tsitsipas will open against Quentin Halys, who pushed Djokovic to two tiebreakers in their Adelaide International tie to reach the quarters in Auckland. The 24-year-old could then potentially take on Talon Grekspor, who recently won the ATP 250 in Pune last week, before setting up a potential pre-quarters tie with Janic Sner.

Auger-Aliassime has the momentum she needs heading into the Australian Open, having won three titles at the end of 2022, but the Canadian also faltered early in the season, losing to Alex Poperian in the second round in Adelaide. went. His biggest threat will be Cam Nori, who is currently 5-0 in 2023, including a come-from-behind win over Nadal at the United Cup.

Semi-finalists: Tsitsipas/Norrie

Third quarter:

This is where things will get interesting. The only talk so far about this section is that both Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios will be in this part of the draw for the Wimbledon 2022 quarterfinals. But while Djokovic is an absolute certainty in his draw despite the presence of seeded players such as Pablo Carreo-Bosta, Alex de Minaur and Grigor Dimitrov, it may not be a walk in the park for Kyrgios.

The most immediate threat to the Aussie is Rowe, who beat Djokovic in the third round in the Paris Masters final and Andre Rublev in the pre-quarters.

Semi-finalists: Djokovic

Fourth quarter:

This part of the draw can be about chance. Casper Ruud, despite his exploits in 2022 where he reached two Slam finals and almost became ATP No. 1, created this buzz around him. Perhaps, their first-round loss in Auckland three days earlier, could be a reason. But Ruud was comfortably beaten, with Matteo Berrettini the only threat, in the fourth round, a chance for the Norwegian to once again make his mark at the Slams.

There is also the chance for Taylor Fritz, who stands in the other half of the draw. A fairly easy draw allowed him to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final.

The focus will also be on the return of Alexander Zverev, who is playing his first Slam match since injury at the French Open.

Semi-finalist: River

semifinished: Nadal beats Tsitsipas/Norrie Djokovic beats Rudd

The final: Djokovic beats Nadal.

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