McEnroe's Dark Horse: Can Grigor Dimitrov Dethrone Novak Djokovic Down Under?

John McEnroe made a list of Novak Djokovic's toughest opponents in Melbourne

by Jovica Ilic
McEnroe's Dark Horse: Can Grigor Dimitrov Dethrone Novak Djokovic Down Under?
© Phil Walter / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Novak Djokovic will seek his 11th Australian Open title in the next two weeks. The defending champion is the top favorite at Melbourne Park, never losing a match at his favorite Major after passing the quarter-final stage. John McEnroe spoke about Novak's closest rivals, mentioning the fellow top 10 competitors and a dark horse.

The American picked an in-form Grigor Dimitrov to do the damage and enjoy a great run in Melbourne. The Bulgarian is in the lower part of the draw, having to win six matches to arrange a potential title clash against the Serb.

Grigor kicks off the campaign against Marton Fucsovics before facing Thanasi Kokkinakis or Sebastian Ofner in round two. Those are not easy rivals by any means, but Dimitrov looks confident following a great start to the season.

Grigor started the year in Brisbane and went all the way, celebrating his first ATP title since the end of 2017! Dimitrov claimed his second Brisbane crown following a 7-6, 6-4 triumph over the top seed Holger Rune in two hours and 16 minutes.

The Bulgarian served at 70% and kept his second serve safe. He defended all three break chances and challenged the young gun to follow those numbers to stay in touch. Holger denied eight out of nine break points, losing a tight opener and suffering one break in set number two to propel the more experienced rival over the top.

John McEnroe backs Grigor Dimitrov to challenge Novak Djokovic.

Dimitrov has never missed a Major since the Australian Open 2011. He reached the semi-final in Melbourne seven years ago, losing a thriller against Rafael Nadal.

Also, he collected three more quarter-finals. Novak is 12-1 against Grigor, earning ten straight wins since Roland Garros 2013. Djokovic and Dimitrov met in Melbourne a year ago in the third round, with the Serb scoring a 7-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory.

Novak needed over three hours to seal the deal, with the opening set heading down to the wire. Djokovic wasted a 5-3 lead and squandered five set points, allowing Dimitrov to reach a tie break. Grigor missed a set point at 7-6, and Novak prevailed 9-7 after 80 minutes!

Djokovic grabbed a single break in the second set and three more in the third, breaking the rival's resistance and moving into the last 16 after a massive battle.

Grigor Dimitrov, Australian Open 2024© Kelly Defina / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

"If I have to pick a player from outside the top-10 who could challenge Novak, it's Grigor Dimitrov.

He has a massive potential, playing on the top-5 level recently. Of course, the other picks are obvious. There are Medvedev, Sinner, Alcaraz, Rune, Zverev and Tsitsipas," John McEnroe said.

Grigor Dimitrov Novak Djokovic John Mcenroe