Novak Djokovic continues to dominate the ATP tour and has a chance to win his fourth successive Australian Open title in January.
Melbourne was the scene of his first ever Grand Slam title back in 2008 and over his career he has won the tournament nine times out of a possible 14.
His five exits in this period have all occurred before the semi-finals, so if there is to be an upset then it may be a bigger one than expected.
But who could stop him from racking up a 10th win Down Under and halt the Novak Djokovic Australian Open dominance?
Djokovic’s ageing rivals
There are only four other active players who have won multiple Grand Slam titles in their careers, but all of them are older and have been struggling with injuries.
Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray all missed at least two Grand Slam tournaments in 2021 and their powers are fading.
Djokovic, Nadal and Federer are all currently tied on 20 Grand Slam titles each; more than any other player in the history of the sport.
Therefore, victory in January would see any one of them establish themselves as the outright ‘GOAT’ – at least temporarily.
Who are the main competitors?
Djokovic tops the current ATP rankings by a comfortable margin, with his 11,540 points almost 3,000 clear of his closest rival.
A clutch of young players are trailing in his wake and vying to dominate the sport when his talents eventually wane.
The two players who contested the 2021 ATP Finals singles title, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev, are ranked second and third and therefore look best equipped to deny the Serbian a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title.
Djokovic’s recent dominance
At 34 years old, age doesn’t seem to be catching up with Djokovic, as he continues to dominate the sport.
Since the start of 2020, he has only been defeated 10 times in 91 matches, with four of those losses coming on clay.
Two of the six losses he suffered on a hard surface – like the one he’ll tread in Melbourne – were against Medvedev and another was to Zverev in November’s ATP Finals.
Hard court specialists
Daniil Medvedev cruelly ended Djokovic’s hopes of completing the ‘Calendar Slam’ at the final hurdle in last year’s US Open, just as Roger Federer did in the French Open semi-finals back in 2011.
Since the start of 2020, Medvedev is the only other player who has a win-rate higher than 80 per cent in major tournaments staged on hard courts, like the Australian Open.
The next best performer – with a 79 per cent win rate – is Dominic Thiem, who lost to Djokovic in the 2020 final before winning the US Open later that year.
However, the Austrian has also struggled for fitness recently, with knee and wrist injuries limiting his appearances at major tournaments in 2021.
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