Australian Open 2020 Men’s Singles Preview
From 2017-2019, only 3 men won slams- Roger Federer (x3), Rafa Nadal (x 5) and Novak Djokovic (x4). From 2007-2009, only four men won slams- Roger Federer (x6), Rafa Nadal (x4), Novak Djokovic (x1) and Juan Martin del Potro (x1).
It’s been a while since we’ve had a del Potro breaking through at the top of the game the way he did at the USO ’09. Since then, we’ve had Stan Wawrinka winning three slams, Andy Murray winning three, and Marin Cilic winning one, but when those 3 broke through to win their 1st slam, they were 29, 25 and 25 respectively. del Potro was all of 20 years old.
A 20 year old, or a player aged 26 or under (the clock is ticking for Thiem-lucky for him 30 is the new 20 in men’s tennis), winning their first slam at this year’s Australian Open seems far fetched despite the progress some of the younger contenders have made in the past 12 months from Daniil Medvedev reaching the US Open final and taking Nadal to five sets, Dominic Thiem reaching his 2nd Slam final and Stefanos Tsitsipas winning the 2019 WTF.
The principal reason for that is Novak Djokovic. The world No.2 will be looking for a record 8th Australian Open title and a 17th slam. He’s looking very good for it, too. He went unbeaten at the ATP Cup and Australia is where he arguably gets the most support of all the slams, though he hasn’t yet faced Roger Federer there in a final.
Looking past Novak Djokovic winning the 2020 Australian Open final requires some superb lenses. He has so many things going for him from his excellence over five sets, his slam experience which sees him play his best tennis in the latter stages and his form coming in, beating Medvedev and Nadal in the last two rounds of the ATP Cup and with both men playing some great tennis.
If anyone else wants a look in this Open, they will need Djokovic to lose before the final. Or perhaps the better term is get beaten, because it will take one heck of a performance.
That duty could come down to Stefanos Tsitsipas (6) in the last eight. The Greek has said he’s ready to win a slam and has given up his social media apps to focus on the game. They say when a child becomes a man, he gives up childish things, and how good it would be to see Tsitsipas become a man beating Djokovic over five sets on RLA.
The bad news for Tsitsipas, is that if he did that, if he did indeed beat Djokovic in the quarters, he could have to beat Roger Federer in the semis and Rafa Nadal in the final. Beating the Big 3 back to back to win your first slam and break the current lock of all active slam champs being over 30 is the stuff tennis scriptwriters dream of. Tsitsipas is one of the most likely contenders to pull it off.
He might not need to go to such lengths anyway. Roger Federer has not played a warm up event so we can’t gauge his level. He has a tough draw with Hubert Hurcakz in the third round, or recent Adelaide Champ Ugo Humbert.
As for Nadal, he’s had a week’s rest since the ATP Cup and won’t play until Tuesday. He’d be happy to see Djokovic knocked out and to face Tsitsipas in the final instead. He doesn’t have quite the issues Djokovic has with the Next Genners, though they do give him a tough time now and then. His path to the final could see him have to beat Nick Kyrgios or Karen Khachanov in round 4, and both men have tested him, nay beaten him re Kyrgios, at pre slam quarters stages; Dominic Thiem (5), who gave him hell in the 2018 US Open quarters and has improved so much on hard courts, and Daniil Medvedev (4) in the last four, and who doesn’t want to see them replicate that US Open final?
The dream for me would be a Medvedev versus Tsitsipas final. Those two have a bit of a history which would make things even more interesting than they already would be. I won’t hold my hopes up, though. Majors are still very much Majors even if there have been some shifts in the tennis power spectrum the last 12 months. Confidence and experience is the biggest currency, and with Djokovic’s pockets overfilling with both, this Australian Open 2020 men’s singles title is his to lose.
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