The Australian Open 2021 has finally kicked off, after being postponed to February to allow all players to be able to carry out the two weeks of mandatory quarantine imposed by the local government. Bookmakers have no doubts about the favorite of the men's tournament, confident that world number 1 Novak Djokovic will manage to clinch his ninth title at Melbourne Park.
The Serbian veteran is also the defending champion, having beaten Dominic Thiem in five sets in last season's final. Behind him are Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem, without forgetting the wild Daniil Medvedev admired in recent months (also taking into account the Bercy-Finals double in the last part of 2020).
After having equaled the record of 20 Slams of eternal rival Roger Federer, Nadal will try to break him permanently in a tournament that has often been inauspicious, given that the Majorcan only triumphed here in 2009 (in the final over Federer).
During an interview with Express Sport, Alex Corretja took stock of the first Slam of the season.
Corretja on the 2021 Australian Open
"No, Novak Djokovic will be thinking about Rafael Nadal," Eurosport pundit Alex Corretja told Express Sport.
"In this case it is Novak who is the one who has to raise Rafa. Rafa has got some room but it is not just about Novak or Rafa. There are other players that can do well in the tournament. Of course Novak has proved that he is one of the main favourites, if not the main favourite to win the tournament.
But it is a new season, a very strange season. If someone is to be thinking 'if Rafa does it then I go way behind' it is normal, not the other way around. If Novak wins the tournament Rafa knows he is behind him, but in the moment I think it will be more complicated for Novak if Rafa wins than the other way around."
Djokovic and Nadal are not the only contenders for the title in Melbourne. "I would like to see how [Dominic] Thiem tests himself," Corretja added. "When he is on his best he is so dangerous. Mentally he is somebody who has improved, he is more consistent now and physically he is very strong.
Then we have to see how [Stefanos] Tsitsipas gets there and some others, [Daniil] Medvedev, [Alexander] Zverev as well. There are also tough guys like Bautista [Agut], Carreno [Busta] or [Diego] Schwartzman, even [Denis] Shapovalov.
Whoever goes on the side of the draw with these players they are usually a little more tired because they spend four or five hours to beat them."