Going from 17 to 18 Slams: this is Novak Djokovic's main goal for these two weeks in Melbourne Park. The crowd's return to the Australian Open 2021, already a positive thing for all tennis, could give Serb and his rivals the boost to try to win the first Grand Slam of the season.
For the Serbian the draw is not exactly easy, but he probably knows every square inch of the Rod Laver Arena. Although the surface this year, at least according to the tennis players, is faster, this should not be a discriminating factor for the Serb, which, as we have seen in this very first part of the season, already seems in great shape, and the favorite for the final victory.
Could it be Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev, real dangers for him? No, despite their improvements on hard-courts. After Jeremy Chardy on his debut, the world number one could face one between Frances Tiafoe and Stefano Travaglia with a view of Reilly Opelka and Taylor Fritz first and Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic after.
In the quarterfinals for the Serbian there could be Sascha Zverev, recently beaten in the ATP Cup. Not without difficulty. Watch out for Nick Kyrgios, potentially on a collision course with Thiem in the third round.
Australian Open 2021 men's singles preview
Daniil Medvedev instead sits down with Rafa Nadal in the lower portion of the draw.
Still struggling with some minor back problems, the 20-time Grand Slam champion shouldn't give up on his first, true, round of the season. His physical condition will be ready to be evaluated. However Nadal is still Nadal, and the curse at the Australian Open will have to end sooner or later.
The Spaniard also has a great motivation: to break Roger Federer's Slam records (which the two champions now share) already in Melbourne. Daniil Medvedev, for what has been seen in these first days of the year, seems the most formidable rival for Djokovic and Nadal, more than Zverev and Thiem are.
For Nadal it will instead be a sort of mini-challenge with Serbia already in the inaugural week. The first match with Laslo Djere could in fact be the backdrop to the match against Viktor Troicki. Evans, one between Fabio Fognini and Alex de Minaur in the second round, one between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Matteo Berrettini in the quarterfinals.
As seen so far, Berrettini could be the real outsider of the tournament. Australian Open 2021 men's singles preview Novak Djokovic 60% Daniil Medvedev 25% Rafael Nadal 15% Outsider: Matteo Berrettini