Australian Open 2020: No clear favourites, feels Novak Djokovic

Updated: Jan 14, 2020, 08:41 IST | AFP | Sydney

World No. 2 Novak Djokovic says first Grand Slam of 2020 is an open race as anyone from the Big Three or NextGen is capable of winning Down Under

Serbia coach Nenad Zimonjic (left), Dusan Lajovic, Novak Djokovic, Viktor Troicki and Nikola Cacic (right) pose with ATP Cup in Sydney. Pic/AFP
Serbia coach Nenad Zimonjic (left), Dusan Lajovic, Novak Djokovic, Viktor Troicki and Nikola Cacic (right) pose with ATP Cup in Sydney. Pic/AFP

Sydney: Defending champion Novak Djokovic insisted there are no clear favourites for next week's Australian Open despite his ominous start to the season."

The World No. 2 was in fine touch at the ATP Cup, leading Serbia to victory over 23 other nations in the new men's team event, overpowering Davis Cup champions Spain in the final in the early hours of Monday.

His march included wins over dangerous Canadian Denis Shapovalov, World No. 5 Daniil Medvedev and his long-time rival, the top-ranked Rafael Nadal. Despite this, and Djokovic's dominance at Melbourne Park, where he has won the season-opening Grand Slam seven times since 2008, the Serb said there were plenty of players capable of being crowned champion.

"Look, the last hardcourt Grand Slam was in New York, and Rafa won it," he said of the US Open final where Nadal edged Medvedev in five sets. "So, you know, I think it's really open, the Australian Open or any other Slam.

Promising young guns
"I don't think there are really clear favourites. You have obviously Federer, Nadal, myself because of the experience and everything and the rankings that we get to be probably named the top three favourites.

"But then you have Medvedev, [Stefanos] Tsitsipas, Dominic Thiem that are really showing some amazing tennis."

Djokovic pointed to the season-ending ATP Finals in London where Tsitsipas battled back from a set down to beat Thiem.

"They showed that they matured on the big stage, that they can challenge the best players in the world and win against them," he said. "So everybody keeps on talking about NextGen player winning a Slam. You know, it seems like it's getting closer. Hopefully not this year. We'll see."

Djokovic enjoyed the ATP Cup hugely, a different start to how he usually begins his season, revelling in the team spirit and the large Serbian crowd support when he played in Brisbane and Sydney. He called it the "perfect preparation" for a tilt at an eighth title at the Australian Open, which starts on January 20.

"These kind of team competitions are really, truly special, and I'm personally over the cloud with my emotions, and hopefully I can take that positive energy and use it for Australian Open."

Djoko closes gap on Nadal
Meanwhile, Djokovic's win over Nadal on Sunday not only helped Serbia secure the ATP Cup in Sydney but enabled him to close the gap on the Spaniard in the new ATP rankings released on Monday.

Djokovic closed the gap between the world's top two players to just 510 points. At the start of the year, the gap stood at 930 points.

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