Australian Open 2nd rd Preview Kevin Anderson Vs Frances Tiafoe

Kevin Anderson Vs Frances Tiafoe at the Australian Open 2019 second round preview.
Photo courtesy of zimbio.com

Kevin Anderson is a quiet favorite for this year’s Men’s singles Australian Open title. Few are explicitly championing him as the favorite, but even fewer would be shocked if he won the title.

Anderson crept upon the tennis big time a couple of seasons ago, going from one of the game’s biggest servers and solid top 20 players to one of its greatest competitors established in the top ten. Having come back from ankle and shoulder injuries in 2016, Anderson reached the US Open ’17 final as the 28th seed, broke into the top 10 in early ’18 and made the Wimbledon final, playing that match versus John Isner, that same season.

There’s little chance of Frances Tiafoe creeping up on the big stage. The 20 year old’s been on the radar since he was a teen, a former No.2 in the juniors, the youngest winner of the Orange Bowl (aged 15 and 11 months) and made a much hyped pro debut at the 2014 Citi Open.

Tiafoe’s powerful serve and forehand, shot-making, and athleticism are touted to help take him to the top of the game. Ranked 39, he’s on the right track and it won’t be too long before he’s seeded and the likes of Anderson won’t have to worry about him until at least another round.

Anderson knows only too well how dangerous Tiafoe is. They have met three times, all on hard court, two of those matches going three sets and the straight setter featuring a tiebreak.

Tiafoe has not made a name for himself as a danger to the seeds at slams just yet, however. Tiafoe’s record in slams is unremarkable- he’s 5-11 with his best result coming at last year’s Wimbledon, the third round. But, he does have two top ten wins at ATP events on his resume, both on hard courts, and both in tough three setters, (Vs Sascha Zverev Cincy’17; del Potro Delray Beach ’18 on his run to his one and only title), and that seed slaying breakthrough can only be so far away.

It could come as soon as this Australian Open 2nd round contest. As Tiafoe’s close matches versus Anderson suggest, these two are a good match up. Both have great first serves, can control points from the baseline and have an aggressive mindset. The difference could be the second serve, of which Anderson has the greater of the two.

If both men serve out of their minds, then inspiration will decide this one. Tiafoe likes the big crowds and can produce the kind of tennis to get them going. Anderson’s inspiration tends to express itself in huge winners hit out of nowhere sure to draw a few gasps.

Neither player will have to listen hard for their muse with the crowd knowledgeable about both player’s stage in their careers, a crowd who will do their vocal best to help them realize their potential- Anderson’s shot at making another slam final and ending his days as bridesmaid; Tiafoe on the verge of getting his career really rolling and announcing himself as a contender.

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Australian Open Mens 1r Preview Milos Raonic (16) Vs Nick Kyrgios

Australian Open
Photo courtesy of Carine06 at Flickr

Milos Raonic was No.3 in the world when he made the semi-finals of the Australian Open in 2017, had recently reached his first slam final at Wimbledon ’16, and had made the ATP WTF semis.

While hard work and talent can get you a step ahead in pro tennis, there’s nothing like an injury to set you two steps back, as Raonic unfortunately experienced when on the verge of reaching his potential, wrist and right leg injuries derailed his career, bringing his momentum to a halt and his ranking dropping to 40 in late February 2018.

Raonic has fought back, though, reaching in the last 12 months the Miami semis, the Wimbledon quarters, and the US Open last 16, and is seeded 16 at this year’s Australian Open.

The draw Gods have not been kind to him, though, putting him against home hope Nick Kyrgios in the first round.

Nick Kygrios is currently ranked 51 (he was still a top 20 player last August). Kyrgios has not always helped himself when it comes to reaching his potential, but he’s also been cursed with injuries, an elbow one the most recent.

Had the tennis fates been kinder, these two, aged 28 (Raonic) and 23 (Krygios) might have both been seeded in the top 8 right now and drawn to meet in the quarters.

It would not have been too far fetched to predict a few years back that Raonic and Kyrgios might even meet each other in either the Australian Open, Wimbledon or US Open finals.

But injuries derail plenty of potential Grand slam winning careers and it’s determination and luck which get them back on track.

With Raonic, there’s no question he’ll work his hardest to give himself that chance to reach his potential; with Kyrgios, what happens is anyone’s guess.

For now, though, the issue both men have to face is one of the toughest matches in the Australian Open first round.

The two have met 6 times and their head to head is split 3-3. Kyrgios won their sole hard encounter in the Miami 2016 quarters.

Going into this match, Kyrgios lost in the second round of Brisbane in three sets to Jeremy Chardy while Raonic reached the Brisbane quarters where he lost a close three setter to Daniil Medvedev making him the more match fit of the two.

The match is likely to be decided by the serve and the second ball. If either throw in a weak service game, their opponent has a great chance to take the set. Raonic arguably has the more solid backcourt game to put a few doubts in Kyrgios’ mind on break point; Kyrgios has the shotmaking ability should Raonic slip up and throw in any sitters or short balls.

This match is a real toss up. Raonic’s better focus and drive suggests when this match is up in the air, it’ll come down on his side, but he’s playing Nick Kyrgios so anything is possible, which, for a Grand Slam first rounder, is all you can really ask for.

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Australian Open 1st Rd Preview Andy Murray vs Roberto Bautista Agut

Murray Australian Open
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Andy Murray’s announcement that this Australian Open could be his final tournament and his first round match being against Robert Bautista Agut mean this contest will likely end up being the tournament’s most memorable first rounder if not match.

Murray coming up against Bautista Agut, seeded 22, means this Murray Melbourne match will, barring a miracle or Bautista Agut himself getting injured, be his last.

Murray leads Bautista Agut 3-0 in their head to head and has never dropped a set to him, but if ever head to heads meant little, it’s in this match with both men at very different stages of their career, Murray’s ending and Bautista Agut’s blossoming.

Bautista Agut is on a great run of form, beating Novak Djokivic in the Doha semis and Tomas Berdych in the final, arguably the greatest week of his career.

Like Murray, Bautista Agut is a counterpuncher at heart and very fast around the court, and his higher level of fitness and match play should mean the Spaniard will make Murray chase down one too many balls than he is physically capable of doing.

Murray’s hip may be pushing him out of the game, but he will give everything he has to stay in the tournament and make this potential final slam one to be proud of.

Win or lose, Murray will receive a heart-warming reception from the crowd on Melbourne Arena, where this match is scheduled not before 6 pm,and there will be plenty of hankies passed around.

Murray has earned the love of the locals. The Scot has the unenviable but impressive record of reaching the most finals in Melbourne (5) and not winning the title (’10, ’11, ’13, ’15, ’16)

The Scot’s counter-punching, tactical astuteness, superb physical conditioning, match winning backhand and fine touch have seen him beat the likes of Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, Marin Cilic, Kei Nishikori, and Milos Raonic, and contest the formidable 2011 semi-final versus Novak Djokovic at Melbourne Park.

Bautista-Agut may never reach the status of the afore-mentioned Murray rivals, but he, like Murray did in his career, seems intent on reaching his potential, and this Australian Open could be his best chance to start doing so.

For now, the Spaniard is an underachiever slam wise, having never gone beyond the fourth round in 24 attempts, (though he has reached the fourth round 9 times) but the Australian Open is where the 22nd seed has had his most fourth round appearances- 3 in total.

Bautista has been held back by not having the weapons needed to beat the top players over five sets, but his flat and quick forehand can produce winners, and does so now on a more regular basis, and his fitness and solid all round game just keeps improving.

Beating Murray won’t be all straight-forward business for Bautista Agut despite his opponent’s compromised condition. There will be a lot of attention for a first rounder, a lot of emotion, and we all know what they say about wounded lions and all.

Few fiercer lions than Murray have prowled the Melbourne Park courts Down Under and Bautista Agut will need to be supremely focused and professional to put him out of his misery.

The Spaniard is up to the task mentally as well as physically and knows all about getting on with the job- he lost his mother before last year’s Roland Garros only to go on and play some of his career best matches the rest of the season.

That drive adds even more heart to a match rich in heartbreak and celebration of the sporting spirit. Whatever you do, don’t miss it.

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Fantasy Tennis Australian Open 1,250 euro in prizes

Fantasy tennis
Photo courtesy of zweeler.

Fantasy Australian Open 2019:

In the next two weeks Melbourne will be dominated by the first Grand Slam of the year: the Australian Open.

Roger Federer and Caroline Wozniacki will do everything to defend their title successfully.

But that will not be easy. Contrary to twelve months ago, Novak Djokovic is back at the top at the men’s tennis table and Rafael Nadal is, in his own words, once again top fit.

For the ladies, predicting the winner is a tombola. Almost everyone in the top 20 can beat each other.

Why play Fantasy Tennis?
 Your engagement with Tennis will further increase. It is not about one tennis players, but 30 tennis players who need to perform for you!
 For only 7 euro you will get many extra hours of entertainment before the start of the tournament but also during the event your tennis players will give you a lot of joy, but also a lot of frustration.
 If you manage to beat the other players, you can also win nice cash prizes (at least 1,250 euro) 1 st prize is at least 250 Euro!

Zweeler Fantasy Sports Games set up a few great games for the Australian Open so you can enjoy Tennis with even more passion!

The Fantasy Australian Open 2019 starts on Monday 14 January 2019 at 1:10 hours CET.

As a participant to the Fantasy Australian Open you need to create a team which exists out of 30 tennis players. All tennis players (men and women) are divided into 7 different groups. You can choose per group a restricted total of tennis players of which you think are going to win the most
points in the Fantasy Australian Open.

The game will cost 7 euro per team and will start with a guaranteed amount of 1,250 euro in prizes.

The first prize will be 250 euro (31 GC prizes).

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Australian Open Mens Singles Draw Breakdown and Predictions

Australian Open Preview
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Trust the inimitable Ogden Nash to say it like it is,

“Athletes, I’ll drink to you,
Or eat with you
Or anything except compete with you…”

Here we are then, at the start of the new year and new tennis season: sunshine and popcorn at the ready Down Under while the northern hemisphere braves winters. For it is us onlookers who have perhaps missed the action more than the gladiatorial professionals themselves who would definitely appreciate a longer off-season.

World No. 1 and top seed Novak Djokovic enters the year’s first major—the Australian Open—as an overwhelming favorite, despite his last three defeats in competitive play, most recently to the pugnacious Roberto Bautista Agut, and then two more—towards the end of 2018—to youngsters (or NextGen, as ATP Tour calls them) Sascha Zverev and Karen Khachanov.

While one may be tempted to put in an asterisk against Djokovic’s favorite status, because the losses to the young pretenders came in finals, let us not forget that a Grand Slam is a different animal altogether. And facing the Serb on hard courts over five sets is one of tennis’ ultimate tests, which is what fourth seeded Zverev could well find out should the duo face off in the semis.

Six-time champion and two-time defending champion Roger Federer, the number three seed, may only count himself among the “top 10 favorites”, but is being viewed by most experts as Djokovic’s main challenger, and if they do meet in the final, the eventual champion would have a record 7 Australian Open titles.

Poetic it was then that the Swiss landed in the opposite half of the Serbian, giving scribes even more to write home about: a potential ‘Fedal’ semi-final.

Lest we forget, 17-time major champion Rafael Nadal is on the hunt for an elusive second crown on the Plexicushion Prestige surface—one that would mean the Spaniard would have won at each of the sport’s four flagship events at least twice – but the Spaniard has had to withdraw mid match from his last two hard courts slams (AO ’18; USO ’18) so scribes may be denied their Fedal part 39.

So, how did the draw play out and what lies in store for the top four? The Tennis Review editor Christian Deverille and sports analyst Karthik Swaminathan @Lord_Kartz) present their points of view below.

First Quarter:

Headlined by the top-ranked Serbian, who begins his quest for a fifteenth grand slam against a qualifier (tbd), this section comprises shot-makers old and young.

Djokovic could face an old foe who is making a comeback, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, in the second round, before an exciting third round against Denis Shapovalov.

Daniil Medvedev (15), the towering Russian who reached the final in Brisbane (l. Kei Nishikori), might lie in wait in the fourth. The Russian, who led the 2018 ATP tour in hard court wins (37), is one of the trickier last 16 opponents Djokovic could have drawn and an opportunity for the Serbian to reassert himself against the younger prospects in the game.

Brisbane winner Kei Nishikori, who stopped an ignominious nine-match losing streak in title bouts, is Djokovic’s scheduled last eight opponent. He will need the awesome returning he showed in that Brisbane run if he is to survive Ivo Karlovic in round 2. In round 3, he could meet veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber. Fabio Fognini is scheduled for round 4, but few will be relying on the dynamic Italian to meet his seeded position meaning Nicolas Jarry or Pablo Carreno Busta could find themselves in a position to challenge the Japanese.

David Goffin (21) is the dark horse in this section. His potential last 32 match vs Medvedev could be one of the matches of the first week.

Christian’s pick: Djokovic is less of a favorite for me this year than he was in his pomp. But, Djokovic doesn’t have to be as good as he was – he just has to be better than everyone else right now, which he will likely prove to be in best of five sets in Melbourne.

Karthik’s pick: Novak Djokovic; writing off the Serb in a major would be a costly, costly mistake. While Shapovalov and Medvedev are among the most exciting talents to rise up the ranks, the World No. 1 has one skill which is perhaps beyond their reach: his defence, which is backed by a mind that no longer doubts itself.

Second Quarter:

Having not gone past the third round in three of the four majors, Australia being one of them, Alexander Zverev (4) will be on a mission to reach the semis of a slam for the first time. Only this time, he will be venturing out into the unknown coming off his biggest title—the World Tour Finals—and with Ivan Lendl in his corner.

The German’s quarter brims with young talent such as
Hyeon Chung whom he lost to last year and could meet again in the fourth round, unseeded Nick Kyrgios (another potential fourth-rounder) and Borna Coric (11) (possibly in the quarterfinal), who has been drawn the dangerous Marton Fucsovics in round 2, a match no one will want to miss if it happens.

Zverev’s drawn Alex Bedene in round 1, could face Jeremy Chardy in round 2, and will be tested in round 3 if he meets 29th seed Gilles Simon. In the fourth round, it’s Milos Raonic (16), but few will be shocked to see Stan Wawrinka, who outmuscled Khachanov and Jarry in Doha, waiting for him.

Sascha’s dear friend Dominic Thiem (7) stars in the far end of the section, but fast hard courts are not Thiem’s favorite, and Benoit Paire or Mischa Zverev have a good chance to upset the Austrian in rounds 1 or 2 respectively.

Marton Fucsovics, who ran Djokovic so close in Doha a couple of weeks back, is the dark horse who could go far in this section.

Christian’s pick: Marton Fucsovics.

Zverev is still a little unproven at slam level- his one run to a quarter-final was anything but convincing – so this quarter is wide open.

Fucsovics seems the best candidate to take advantage of that- he is supremely fit which will help him in the brutal conditions and has the powerful ball striking game to succeed on the surface.

Karthik’s pick: Sascha Zverev; if not now, when? Surely then. What is perhaps most striking is the assurance Sascha showed in London, against some of the best the sport has seen. He became just the fourth player ever to beat Federer and Djokovic in succession. Not a small feat by any means.

Third Quarter:

The tournament could see a rematch of last year’s final in the quarters as Federer and Marin Cilic (6) take their positions as the highest ranked players in an explosive third section.

The Swiss commences his campaign for a record-extending 21st grand slam against the mercurial Denis Istomin, who memorably ousted Djokovic on these very courts two years ago. Possibly lying in wait in succession are Gael Monfils (30) (third), Stefanos Tsitsipas (14) (fourth) and either Khachanov (10) or Cilic or the red hot Bautista Agut (22) (quarterfinal).

Defending finalist Marin Cilic won’t be going under the radar at the Australian Open this year after drawing home hope Bernard Tomic in round 1, Russian big hitter Andrey Rublev potentially in round 2 (or Mackenzie McDonald who ran Dimitrov so close last year), Fernando Verdasco (26) in round 3, and Karen Khachanov in round 4. It’s exhausting just thinking about it.

The returning Andy Murray finds himself in this quarter and opens against the Doha champion. Murray shocked the tennis world by announcing this Australian Open could be his last tournament. The five time AO finalist has been suffering with his hip and was tearful making his announcement. He’ll be proud if he goes down to Bautista Agut, though, who lost his mother last season and has show tremendous spirit to lift his game to its recent heights.

Christian’s pick: Bautista Agut. He’s full of confidence, very fit, and fast hard courts are where his skills really shine.

Federer did play well in the Hopman cup, but that was an exhibition event, so how his serve and forehand, which were as vulnerable as they have been in a while post Indian Wells, will hold up under the pressure of Grand Slam tennis is a big question mark.

Karthik’s pick: Roger Federer; yes, it can get tricky. Yes, he can make things hard for himself. And yes, he isn’t growing any younger. But on a medium-fast court and with a ball that pops around, high bounce or not, trust the magician to show why he is considered one of the greatest ever.

Fourth Quarter:

Nadal (2), who is returning from surgery and is testing a new serve, could well cause multiple heartbreaks to the home crowd as three of his first four potential opponents—James Duckworth, Matthew Ebden and the rapidly rising Alex de Minaur—are Australians.

Kyle Edmund or Diego Schwartzman are potential fourth round match-ups. Edmund may fall victim to the resurgent Tomas Berdych in the first round, however.

One of last season’s biggest success stories, Kevin Anderson (5) who triumphed earlier this year in Pune, could present a tall order should the pair face off in the quarterfinal. Kevin Anderson faces Adrian Mannarino in round 1, Frances Tiafoe, in round 2, Steve Johnson (31) in round 3 (or Andreas Seppi) and John Isner (9) in the last four. If that match happens, the final set tiebreak at 6-6 might be seen as a wise decision indeed.

Christian’s pick: Kevin Anderson. Anderson is the ultimate tennis professional and this is a nice draw for him to knuckle down and get on with powering through.

Karthik’s pick: Kevin Anderson; the gentle giant doesn’t just possess a killer serve. He has made his game more solid and doesn’t hesitate to unleash his forehand to create openings.

Christian’s predictions for the semis and final:

Semis:

Djokovic d. Fucsovics: Djokovic’s experience will out, though if their US Open and Doha matches are anything to go by, there’ll be some brutal and hairy moments.

Anderson d. Bautista Agut: Anderson’s serve will make the difference here, and the final set tiebreak will work in his favor.

Final

Djokovic d. Anderson: This will be a better match than the Wimbledon final, but the result will be the same.

Karthik’s predictions:

Semis:

Djokovic d. Zverev: Order will be restored.

Federer d. Anderson: Wimbledon will be avenged.

Final:

Djokovic d. Federer: Call it more mental between the two, but no one, not even Federer, will stop Djokovic from making the Australian Open his own.

Play the Fantasy Australian Open 2019. At least 1,250 euro in prizes! 

https://zweeler.com/game/tennis/FantasyAustralianOpen2019/main.php?ref=628

The Fantasy Australian Open 2019 starts on Monday 14 January 2019 at 1:10 hours CET.
As a participant to the Fantasy Australian Open you need to create a team which exists out of 30 tennis players. All tennis players (men and women) are divided into 7 different groups. You can choose per group a restricted total of tennis players of which you think are going to win the most points in the Fantasy Australian Open.
The game will cost 7 euro per team and will start with a guaranteed amount of 1,250 euro in prizes. The first prize will be 250 euro (31 GC prizes). 

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Australian Open 2019 Men’s Preview

Australian Open

Photo courtesy of Paodom.net

The Australian Open kicks off the Majors for 2019 after a short but sweet off-season. The Tennis Review previews the conditions that will play their part in producing the men’s champions as well as taking a look at the contenders to become part of tennis’ most prestigious champion’s club, the Grand Slam winner’s circle.

The conditions and variables

Surface:

The Australian Open is a little less predictable than some Majors of late. One reason for that is the modification and speeding up of the plexicusion hard court surface over the last couple of seasons (2017/18).

The majority of the tour is played on medium-slow surfaces and most players have modified their games to those higher bouncing baseline based conditions. The Australian Open’s current plexi-cushion surface, however, allows the ball to bounce both faster and lower which favors aggressive players who are comfortable at the net or favor stepping inside the court once the chance arises.

Weather:

The Australian Open is notorious for some of the most ferocious conditions on the tour with on court temperatures in the 40s and only the game’s fittest players can be expected to survive into the second week.

The tournament is two different tournaments in some respect. During the day, the courts play faster, as do the balls which bounce lower. In the evening, the cooler weather and more humid conditions mean the balls fluff up more and play heavier.

To some degrees, those conditions will favor some players more than others and there is a degree of luck, as there always is, as to when certain players are scheduled.

Attacking players will still be favored either way, enjoying, in the day, the balls flying off their racket strings a little quicker and their shots dying before their more defensive minded opponents can track them down, as well as, at night, having a little extra time to handle counter-punchers and being able to move up the court and set themselves up to hit a winner.

In extreme weather, when the roof is not closed, the players will receive ten minute breaks.

The Roof:

When conditions get too hot and humid and thermometers and officials dictate, the roof is closed, as it was so infamously in last year’s final.

Very few players have games tailor made to thrive indoors in today’s game, with so little of the tour played in those conditions, but those players with more awkward ball tosses and  more weather effected and/or error prone strokes and high risk games will benefit. As will players more prone to displaying great touch and who win points by shot placement rather than power.

The off season:

Players come into the Australian Open refreshed after a 6-7 week break from the grind of the tour, relaxed after a holiday or two, and improved, having had some time to tinker with their games or work on their weaknesses, meaning the Australian Open has been known to throw up a few surprises over the years such as Safin beating Federer in the 2005 semis, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga reaching the ’08 final, and Kyle Edmund and Hyeon Chung reaching last year’s last four.

Rule changes:

Following on from Wimbledon’s introduction of a tiebreak at 12-12 in the fifth set, the Australian Open has introduced a ‘super’ tiebreak at 6-6 in the fifth with the tiebreak being the first to 10.

This rule is most likely to benefit the older players preventing them from enduring the rare but often fatal epics as well as being to the advantage of the great returners and the risk takers. It may not mean much in deciding the outcome of a Federer- Djokovic final but could be something of a factor should Federer meet Nadal or Djokovic meet Zverev.

The balls:

The Australian Open has changed its balls from Wilson to Dunlop, a move already criticized by Bernard Tomic who said it was “terrible” and that the balls, that the balls did not feel so good, and that the balls were said to be “cheap.”

While the tournament has defended itself by saying the balls are good quality and made by one of the world’s four best ball manufacturers, other players, have been reported to say the ball is flat and dies quickly on making contact with the court.

Inevitably, the ball will be perceived differently by each player, but it won’t help any but the most experienced competitors to have yet another unknown added into the mix of Grand Slam play.

The Draw:

The greatest variable of them all.

No educated guesses are really possible until the draw is made. Some in form all time greats whose games suit the surfaces to a tee might fly through any draw, but there is no player pre-tournament playing such great tennis to scream champion (Djokovic played three three setters in a row and then lost to Bautista Agut; Federer has only played an exhibition event.)

All will be revealed, and the real speculation can begin, once the draw is made on Thursday January 10th.

Potential champions

Past champions

There are four past champions in the draw- Federer (6), Nadal (1), Djokovic (6), and Wawrinka (1), and their collective reign down under goes all the way back to 2006. 

The big three of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, also happen to be the top three seeds so with good draws and fine health, their chances of extending that run are high. Still, they won’t take anything for granted. The faster conditions and a few quickly improving players mean this tournament is ripe for someone new to have their name etched on the trophy.

Roger Federer

The Swiss has been the main beneficiary of the sped up conditions and is the two time defending champion in Melbourne.

This tournament is arguably the 37 year old’s best chance to win his 21st Major with the clock ticking even on his superhuman career.

Expect Federer to receive preferential treatment- he will most likely play defensive players in the day, and if he comes up against an attacker in form, he’ll play them at night. And if it there is even a sniff of the roof being used, if Federer’s playing, that court will be covered.

Federer comes in refreshed after a disappointing second half of 2018. He had a great Hopman cup, but that is an exhibition match and a world away from the intense competition offered up by a slam.

If anyone is going to benefit from the rest offered by the off-season and all the preferential treatment his resume deserves, it’s the Swiss.

Novak Djokovic

Djokovic goes into the Australian Open as the clear favorite- Sports Dime Betting have the world No.1 and six time champ at +120.

Back at No.1, and holding the last 2 slams, Djokovic is the favorite to win the title, and with organizers most probably aiming for a Federer-Djokovic final, he’ll see his matches most often scheduled at night if he comes up against an aggressive fast court player.

Djokovic will handle the day conditions well, too. The Serb is an aggressive baseliner who just also happens to be the best defender in the game and aged 31, he’ll be happy to  compete in faster conditions, not have to run quite so much and have more energy for the finals where, fresh from the off season, he so often plays his best tennis.

Rafa Nadal

The fast conditions on hard courts help Nadal whose 31 year old body can only take so much pounding from best of five on hard courts- he has had to retire during matches in his last two hard court slams (AO ’18 QF; USO ’18 SF)- so, he’ll be ready to attack and flatten out his shots to give himself the chance to hold each slam at least twice.

Stan Wawrinka

Wawrinka looked good in his late 2018 outings and played well in Doha, beating Khachanov and Nicholas Jarry before falling to eventual champion Roberto Bautista Agut.

The Swiss has the game to overwhelm anyone and if he catches fire, with his experience, you would not count him out. However, he will need to reproduce that form for seven straight matches and may not have the match fitness to defeat too many of the game’s super fit counter-punchers in succession.

Grand slam pedigree

There are only six active slam champs in this year’s Australian Open draw (Juan Martin del Potro has withdrawn with injury) and four of them have won the Australian Open. Here’s a look at the two remaining ones, both former finalists.

Marin Cilic

The defending finalist seems to have put the disappointment of his Wimbledon ’18 exit to Guido Pella in the second round behind him, winning the Davis Cup.

Cilic has been making regular deep runs at slams since his 2014 US Open win and seems due another one.

Andy Murray

Tennis can at times produce a story only a Hollywood screenwriter could come up with, and Murray winning the Australian Open after being the bridesmaid five times and coming back from a hip injury that has seen him drop to 230 in the world would be up there with Roger Federer’s 2017 Australian Open win.

Veterans

If one, or more, of the aforementioned favored champs or finalist or if a player in form gets upset and/or the draw falls apart, or both, experienced vets will be around to take advantage. They might even have gotten themselves together enough to win the slam outright.

Kei Nishikori

Nishikori is one of the 2018 comeback players of the year and the Australian Open suits his baseline aggression. He just won in Brisbane, ending his run of nine losing finals, which will fill him with plenty of confidence.

Grigor Dimitrov

Dimitrov has played some of his career best tennis in Australia. Has the Bulgarian peaked or will Melbourne be the stage for his career achievement?

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Reached the Brisbane semis. A deep Tsonga run would have plenty of support at the scene of where he first burst onto the Grand slam tennis scene when he made the ’08 final.

Tomas Berdych

Made the Doha final. Berdych had been gone six months from the tour until Doha. The popular Czech is another vet who can be sure of getting plenty of love from the knowledgeable Melbourne crowd.

Players in form

Plenty of players come out of the block at the start of the season playing their best tennis and make a deep run through the Australian Open draw.

Roberto Bautista Agut is the Doha champ.

Bautista Agut is ‘due’ a deep slam run. He will have to earn it, of course, but he has done everything he can to put himself in a situation to take his chances. Supremely fit, a game suited to fast hard courts, and with plenty of heart, if he can get a good draw, expect a breakthrough.

Daniil Medvedev was the Brisbane finalist.

A big serving, confident shot-maker, Medvedev led the tour in hard court wins last season and just made the Brisbane final. He’s had a pretty short career- he did not play his 1st main draw ATP match until Nice ’16- to win 3 titles and have such impressive stats, but he is a born champion and if he gets an inch, he’s taking miles.

The Next in Line

2018 ended on a high note for some of the players most likely to succeed the current elite. Could any of these players take another step further by winning their maiden slam?

Sascha Zverev

Success at Majors is the big question for the 2018 WTF champ who has reached 1 Major quarter final (Roland Garros ’18) in his admittedly still young and otherwise impressive career. A let down and an early exit at the Australian Open would be no shock, but with Ivan Lendl around to keep his feet on the ground, a run to his first semi would be the most fitting step in the right direction.

Karen Khachanov

Bold and unassuming, a lethal mix, Karen Khachanov plays like he is not afraid of success and this Australian Open would be the perfect time for the Paris-Bercy ’18 champ to step up before the hype starts getting in the way.

Borna Coric

The Shanghai finalist has added a bit of zap to his shots, especially on the forehand, and proved in 2018 he had a mature and cool head on his shoulders. The conditions will suit him and he has a lot of level-headed confidence, not too surprising considering his game is so closed modeled on six time AO champion Novak Djokovic.

Next Gen

The game no longer favors 17 to 20 years olds announcing themselves with slam titles, but if it were to welcome them with open arms again, these are the players the Major winning circle would be giving hugs to. 

Stefanos Tsitsipas

Aged 20 and ranked 15, Tsitsipas has only played four slams, all in 2018, but has already been to a last 16 (Wimbledon) and should reproduce that result in Melbourne.

Denis Shapovalov

Fast hard courts are the Canadian’s best surface. He’s not won much recently, winning just 1 match since reaching the Tokyo semis, and he hit a lot of errors losing in the Sydney first round, but he likes the big occasion and a Grand Slam is certainly that.

Hyeon Chung

Last year’s semi-finalist has struggled with injuries and looked rusty in Pune. But talented and touted players often play their best at the slam where they achieve their earliest success and so the Australian Open could be where Chung treats us to some of that A grade baseline hitting of his.

Frances Tiafoe

Hard courts are where the shot-making, sparky Tiafoe shines.

Dark horses

With it’s faster low-frequency conditions, the aging bodies of the established champs, the lack of slam winning experience of the vets, the unknown quantities of the next in line, the lack of young players coming through at the very top, and the stronger depth of the men’s field, the Australian Open is the slam most likely to see a dark horse cross the winner’s line. 

Players ranked outside of the top 16 seeds qualify for dark horse status.

Fernando Verdasco

The upset maestro. He pleases as much as he lets down, but you know his presence in an early round match versus a seed adds a little extra to the proceedings.

David Goffin

Goffin, ranked 22, is a skilled fast hard courter and a great competitor. No one wants him in their last 32 bracket.

Martin Klizan

If Klizan faces one of the top seeds, at some point of the match, he is going to look like the winner in waiting. If he can look like that for three sets then we won’t have to wait much longer for him to finally reach the last eight of a slam.

Marton Fucsovics

Fucsovics is one of the game’s most improved players of late and has the fitness to cope with the Australian conditions. He has shown how dangerous he is on hard courts in his US Open and Doha matches versus Novak Djokovic and should come in with plenty of confidence and little pressure.

Home grown hopes

The players born in the Major hosting countries are a privileged bunch with the chance to play the show courts despite their lower rankings, to get one of the sport’s best pay days courtesy of a wild card. and the exposure that can only encourage sponsors and media opportunities. Australia’s rich tennis history also means it’s not short of talent to get the fans involved and attract some new ones.

Nick Kyrgios

Impossible to predict, you’ll just get what you’re given with Kyrgios. He’ll be under the spotlight, that’s one thing for sure.

Thanassi Kokkinakis

Kokkanakis’ Miami win over Roger Federer showed his potential last season.

Injuries have sidelined him, but if he is healthy and playing well, his youthful and charismatic presence on court will do wonders for Australian tennis. That’s if he plays of course. He’ll have to come through qualifying after being looked over for a wildcard.

John Millman

Millman has come to prominence of late after his fourth round US Open win over Roger Federer and he has the athleticism, stamina and counter punching skills to do well at home.

Bernard Tomic.

Nick Kyrgios’ antics have overshadowed the once prime bad boy of tennis, and going under the radar will help the one time great Australian Hope. Tomic seems like he has found some love for tennis again, winning the Chengdu Open with some real grit, and breaking back into the top 100. That means little in the face of the pressure and expectations he might face at his home Major, but Tomic keeps showing us new layers and there are sure more to be peeled.

Alex de Minaur

He’s got Hewitt’s legs and Hewitt’s ear, and the youngster will have plenty of support.

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ATP Fantasy Tennis What You Need to Know

Fantasy tennis
Photo courtesy of zweeler.

Why play Fantasy Tennis?

Fantasy ATP Tennis 2019: At least 4,000 Euro in prizes!

  • Your engagement with Tennis will further increase. It is not about one tennis players, but 20 tennis players who need to perform for you!
  • For only 10 euro you will get many extra hours of entertainment before the start of the tournament but also during the season your tennis players will give you a lot of joy, but also a lot of frustration.
  • If you manage to beat the other players, you can also win nice cash prizes (at least 4,000 euro) 1st prize is at least 600 Euro!

The Fantasy ATP Tennis 2019 starts on Monday 7 January 2019 at 0:40 hours CET.

You have a budget of 270 million euro to buy 20 tennis players of which you think are going to win the most points in the Fantasy ATP Tennis 2019. 

The game will cost 10 euro per team and will start with a guaranteed amount of 4,000 euro in prizes. The first prize will be 600 euro (81 GC prizes).

The Fantasy WTA Tennis 2019 starts on Monday 31 December 2018 at 0:10 hours CET.

You have a budget of 265 million euro to buy 20 tennis players of which you think are going to win the most points in the Fantasy WTA Tennis 2019. 

The game will cost 7 euro per team and will start with a guaranteed amount of 1,500 euro in prizes. The first prize will be 300 euro (41 GC prizes)

Click here to register!

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2018 Men’s Tennis Review Fight it, Embrace it, it’s Happening all the same

Zverev

Photo courtesy of tumblr.com

Little it seems changes in men’s tennis these last few seasons, except of course when it does, and when it does, it means business. The Tennis Review reviews and gives its thoughts on the 2018 men’s tennis season. 

Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, and Novak Djokovic cleaning up at the Majors, we’ve seen that plenty of seasons (2006-2008, 2010, 2011, 2017) and 2018 saw all three win at the game’s biggest events (Federer, Australian Open; Nadal, Roland Garros; Djokovic, Wimbledon and the US Open).

None of the Big 3 were dominant throughout the whole of the 2018 season, though. Federer dropped off after his close loss to Juan Martin del Potro in the Indian Wells final, and the match play he lacked after skipping the clay season hurt him on Grass and the US Summer hard courts. Nadal petered out, as he has often done, in the latter part of his season, losing his No.1 ranking in the process. The man he lost it to, Novak Djokovic, was a shadow in the first third of the season until he appeared in technicolor vision to win 2 slams and end the season No.1, though his subdued performances in his last two finals, Paris-Bercy and ATP WTF, were poor imitations of his Greatest Hits.

Another reappearance for old time’s sake we got this season was Roger Federer reaching the No.1 spot and Juan Martin del Potro in a slam final, the US Open no less, though his performance bore no resemblance to that 2009 shake up as Djokovic shook him down after a tight first set and left him with nothing more to give. del Potro did give us something new, however, this season- his first ATP 1000 title, and what a title and match that was.

But if it was a case of remixes at the big events, tennis did get something fresh at the ATP 1000s. Borna Coric played a great Indian Wells, taking the match to Federer in the semis, winning a title in Halle, beating the Swiss, and then beat the Swiss again on his way to the Shanghai final. Stefanos Tsitsipas made the final in Barcelona and in Toronto. Karen Khachanov gave us the match of the US Open in his loss to Nadal in the third round and won the Paris-Bercy title. Sascha Zverev made the Miami final, won Madrid, and was the WTF champion. Khachanov’s and Zverev’s end of season runs injected some excitement into the season for those of us impatient for new faces biting trophies. They were, however, not so much the young and the fit disposing of the reigning yet still strong leaders, but more the young and the fit feasting on their superior’s burned out remains.

In the slams, the most notable youthful results were Hyeon Chung and Kyle Edmund reaching the Australian Open semis, Dominic Thiem reaching his first slam final and putting up a great fight in the first set and Zverev making his first slam quarters, at Roland Garros, and barely so. That those latter two achievements seem like shifts in the tennis status quo tells you how far 2018 was from any real breakthroughs at the top.

For those who like their vets as much as the Next Gens, or more than, John Isner won his first ATP 1000 title in Miami, Ernests Gulbis was back playing his best in slams, coming through qualifying and reaching the Wimbledon fourth round, and Kei Nishikori worked his way back into the top ten. Kevin Anderson made his 2nd Major final, at Wimbledon.

So while tennis did not undergo any seismic shifts in terms of champs and contenders, it did start to shake a little,at least, and nowhere more so than in the administration of the game whose effects will really come into play in 2019. 

After two grueling semi-finals between John Isner and Kevin Anderson and Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic, lasting over 10 hours and two days, Wimbledon decided to introduce a tiebreaker at 12-12 in the fifth set. The Australian Open followed suit announcing a super tiebreak at 6-6, the winner the first to 10 and to hold a 2 point advantage. In a sport racked with debates as to how to cut down on court time and increase fan numbers and revenue, these moves may mean little in the short term, with very few matches reaching those late stages in the fifth in the first place, but such changes could end up being the first steps towards some of the scoring and ruling trialed in the Next Gen Finals and, for the purists, the end of the fifth set, the very heart of men’s tennis at Majors. Such predictions may seem alarmist to some, but if anyone is going to be alarmed at such potential changes in the game, it’s the fans who’ve sat through more epic late in the fifth slam matches than they can remember and who would not want a single second back.

The Davis Cup suffered the greatest shake up of all when a one time Great footballer swooped in to reduce the men’s game’s biggest team event to a once great competition, no longer to be played at different stops throughout the year but to be competed for in an end of year one week event.

Change is inevitable, and tennis, when it comes to changes at the top, likes to keep us waiting or, when it comes to admin, bamboozle.

New champions, new rules and formats are on the horizon, but there’s still a few seasons in the current Greats and institutions- here’s to some deep in the fifth classics at Roland Garros, and Wimbledon, too (12-10 is still pretty reasonable).

2018 gave us a little bit of the old, a little bit of the new, sometimes a mishmash of the two. We witnessed some new and old faces taking their chances with vigor and we saw the end of the historic epics at a couple of the slams and the abrupt demise of the year long journey of one of the sport’s most significant institutions.

Tennis is changing. Fight it; embrace it- it’s happening all the same.

Happy New Year!

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Who Needs Hype When You Have Karen Khachanov?

Khachanov

Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons

Unseeded 22 year old Karen Khachanov defeated the then imminent world No.1 Novak Djokovic in the Paris-Bercy final 7-5, 6-4. Who needs hype when we have such a promising player?

The first big final of a player’s career is an important moment. The walk on to the court a sweet moment, a time to revel in a quiet sense of achievement before the elation or deflation that is to come. That moment is not quiet anymore though, not in Paris-Bercy anyway. Flashing lights against a dark backdrop, loud music drowning out excited pre-match murmur, WWF style announcements of the players just in case you did not know why they were. You would forgive a young gun for firing blanks after such a stage fright aggravating build up.

Karen Khachanov does not want our forgiveness, though. This unassuming and quietly confident young man wants nothing from us other than the minimum he could expect as a performer and a next big thing- a little courteous applause for what he can give, which is plenty. The Russian can take plenty, too, surviving, in the early stages of the match, the relentless pressure Djokovic brings to the big finals. The Russian fought off break points in his first service game and then again at 1-2, finally caving in on the seventh to go down 1-3 to the tune of a roaring Djokovic.

Caving in, that’s par for the course it seems nowadays when the younger players face the vets in these finals, unless they catch them out of form and/or injured. But, there was something different about this time. First, the Djokovic roar seemed a little out of place at such an early stage in a match versus an unseeded player with a 6-16 record versus the top ten. Three of those wins, though, had come on the way to the final, and this Djokovic, while on a match winning streak of 22, had a cold and was coming in off the back off as big a match as it gets outside of a final, a three set, a third set tiebreaker no less, win over Roger Federer.

Khachanov quietened that roar in the next game, breaking back for 2-3.

What followed was a balanced and engaging contest between a veteran and a next gen player with different styles- Khachanov’s ballstriking (Safin 2.0 some say) and power versus Djokovic’s careful construction work. At 5-5, the balance tipped Khachanov’s way when he broke the Djokovic serve and let out a roar of his own. This cry was anything but strange. Unseeded, in his first ATP 1000 final versus a wounded soon to be No.1, the Russian had the opportunity all the talent, hard work and focus had brought him. He did not let himself down either, serving out to take the first set 7-5.

Still, plenty of players have taken Djokovic to the extremes when he has been under the weather or tired out and then backed off, or been thrown off the scent. At least we had, whatever was to happen, a little more of a glimpse of the promise Khachanov offered in such matches. Promise we had seen in the US Open third round versus Nadal when the Russian was still feeling his way around big matches, grappling a little in the dark at vital moments. This time, however, the Russian was not into just giving off glimpses of his potential; he could see only all too clearly now. This final was about delivering ball-striking with precision, depth and shape, about vision and believing. The 22 year old did not let up, breaking Djokiovic early in the second set and then seeing his promise all the way through, taking the match 7-5, 6-4 and the Paris Rolex Masters title, the fourth trophy of his career.

In his speech, Khachanov said what an honor it was to play Djokovic in such a match and that he hoped to match his impressive numbers one day. Such ambition is admirable and, it would appear, warranted. How far ahead fans should look, however, is another thing. Having been burned by hype, proclaiming the next big thing more often than not, it’s wise to proceed with cation. Paris has a history as the venue for a few career peaks- David Ferrer’s lone ATP 1000 title, Jerzy Janowicz’s run to the final, Jack Sock’s career high last season. (Sock is now ranked outside the top 100). The tournament is a good one for a player with some form to catch a few tired and off their game vets and elite players.

At the same time, Bercy has also been the site of some of the game’s best ball strikers teeing off in indoor conditions- Safin and Agassi to name two prime examples- and some all time greats showing how season long stamina and dominance is done- Federer and Djokovic.

Where Khachanov will land on that spectrum is unknown. But watching him take that first step on his journey at the top of the game was a real ride. One with a noisy start, a thrilling middle, and a hopeful ending. No need for hype- we will always have, whatever happens, Karen Khachanov at Paris-Bercy ’18.

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Novak Djokovic Plays his Way Back into Greatest of all Time Debate

Djokovic

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia commons.

After a quiet couple of seasons, slam trophy wise, Novak Djokovic came back out the woodwork the second half of 2018 to add to his silverware and in doing so has played his way back into the Greatest of all time debate.

Novak Djokovic’s straight sets US Open 2018 final win over Juan Martin del Potro was the Serbian’s 14th Grand Slam title and his second this season, the other one won at Wimbledon.

Djokovic could not have won his recent US Open any more convincingly than he did, winning his semis and final both in straights, barely putting a foot wrong, and against fine grand slam pedigree, a former finalist, Kei Nishikori (’14), and a former champ in del Potro (’09).

That recent US Open  win was another feat in a sudden rush of achievements for the Serbian. 

Djokovic’s comeback from well documented setbacks the second half of this season has seen him, after his Cincy win, complete the ATP 1000 set of nine titles, the first man to do so, and level Pete Sampras in the all time slam haul list.

The eighth seed also had his fourth multiple slam winning season (Federer has had six, Nadal 4, Sampras 4.). Though, like many stats, how much that reveals, considering the likes of Laver could not compete in slams for five years in their prime, is contentious.

Those achievements, whatever they reveal, have seen Novak Djokovic not just return to the current crop of slam winners, but have also seen him play his way back into the All Time Great conversation.

That conversation, as involving and controversial as it is for some, is one not everyone has time for. After all, comparing different eras is a little orangey and appley when you factor in the different surfaces slams have been competed on (just two in the years Laver won his calendar year slams; the four very different surfaces Sampras played on; the more homogenized era we have now), development in racket and ball technologies (wooden vs graphite; varying bounces and speeds), fluctuating prestige of events over time, (Borg played one Australian Open, in 1974, the slam before he won his first Roland Garros), and the years particular players were able to compete at events such as slams (Laver missed slams from ’63-’67, but won what many coined the Pro Grand Slam in ’67) being just a few of the variables.

However, a couple of elements which are consistent over time in judging the all time greats are winning percentage and who wins the big events, and Novak Djokovic has excelled at both.

In 2018, Novak Djokovic is at 80% for the past 52 weeks, (third after Federer and Nadal), and is third all time, too, at 82.6, behind Borg (1st) and Nadal (2nd). (Federer is 4th). This stat, like all, is as revealing for what it does not say as what it does,  a stat a little skewed with Borg’s early retirement. However, whether or not Djokovic comes first in it or not is not what proves conclusive. What matters is just how high Djokovic is ranked in the list, and what this ranking reveals about his consistency.

Another important factor to consider when delving into the G.O.A.T debate variables is that while the tournaments considered to be prestigious have changed- can anyone imagine Thiem missing the Australian Open the way Borg did?- who wins whatever those events are is still indicative of who the best players of that time are. In today’s game,  the ATP 1000s and slams are the tournaments to win and Novak Djokovic proved at Wimbledon, Cincy and the US Open that he was the man to beat.

The G.O.A.T debate variables keep on coming, too. Increased career longevity has been one factor reshaping the G.O.A.T debate the last few years and is  one crucial factor in the Serbian playing his way back into that debate.

Djokovic has been one of the men to beat, at times the man to beat, at those tournaments to win since 2007 when he first won the Canadian Open and a few months later when he won the Australian Open.

That early Djokovic success began just at the end of Federer’s prime, in late 2007 and early 2008, in what seemed like another in a long line of one of tennis’ most compelling tales: All Time Greats being surpassed by the next in line. Djokovic’s rise also occurred at the same time Nadal transformed from a one surface great to an all court one, no longer just getting in Federer’s way in Paris, but in London and Melbourne, too. That gradual usurping and battle for supremacy has been a long and engaging narrative in tennis, from Lendl and McEnroe being dethroned by Sampras and Agassi, those two Americans then slayed by Federer.

This passing of the tennis racket, though, did not play out like ones of times past, with Federer not going down in his late 20s or early 30s before licking his wounds on the Golf course or commentating on TV like many a great champion before him, but, instead, taking on the role of both the Jesus and the Lazarus of tennis, the player most beloved by the tennis congregation and the player most beloved of pulling off headline making comebacks.

If the general consensus is that Federer is the greatest of all time then Nadal and Djokovic are, only logically, his biggest rivals for that title, and if slams, the current be all and end all for judging greatness, are anything to go by, that would mean Federer is the greatest, Nadal second, and Djokovic third, which reduces the debate to its simplest, and using slams as the ultimate indicator, most modern form.

Who is the greatest cannot just come down to slams though, and cannot be just shaped by the U.S media’s desire to frame Sampras as the greatest when he tied and then surpassed the slam count with Laver. Outside of the slam numbers game, Djokovic has a few stats and achievements which could be seen to compensate for the number’s differences in slams won (Federer, 2o; Nadal, 17; Djokovic, 14). He has head to head winning ratios over his greatest rivals Federer (24-22) and Nadal (27-25), is the only one of the three to have won all four slams in a row, and is the only won to have all the ATP 1000 titles.

Still, as impressive as all these numbers are, we cannot fixate on objective figures, ones which can so neatly put an end to a discussion, not when it comes to a debate of such subjectivity. Look beyond the numbers, instead, and there is plenty going on in the foreground and the background which opens up that debate for some real conversation, namely style and story.

Narrative wise, Djokovic can now compete with Federer and Nadal, having, like them, bounced back from a fall from the top, battling elbow injury and the subsequent shocking and confidence bruising losses suffered on the road back, and what a high road it was the Serb had to get back on.

Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have all come back in inspiring fashion, but Djokovic’s fall- going from winning the Djokiovic slam in the Roland Garros final to losing in the third round of Wimbledon and going through 2017 not making it past the quarters of a slam- was more of a staggering drop from the top than Federer’s(the Swiss’s 2016 injury woes were four years past his last slam triumph) and Nadal’s (his 2014 fall did come off the back of a number 1 winning multiple slam winning year but it still pales, in the brightest colors, compared to Djokovic’s 2015-2016 run).

If the Djokovic comeback story was not compelling enough to give him an edge, then the Djokovic style is sure to pull any lover of baseline tennis or point construction in. The manner in which Djokovic won his most recent slams, winning both finals in straights and playing just the right match each time, breaking down his rival’s strengths and coming through the difficult moments of the match when they found their weapons again, was a return to the style Serbian executed to such great effect in his 2011 and 2015-16 runs. That Djokovic signature style, baseline prowess at its best on the big points, may not be greater than Federer and Nadal’s, but in its execution and effect, is certainly their equal.

So, what does Djokovic have to do to become the Greatest Ever?

First, he needs his rival’s own slam hauls to grind to a halt. Djokovic has already been argued by some scribes to be the greatest ever after his 2015 season and few expected Federer and Nadal to get back to winning slams and hitting the number one spot again pushing Djokovic back down into clear third place in the ruthless process. Now that Djokovic has caught back up a little, few would still bet against Fedal repeating that pulling away feat despite both men’s recent struggling form and injury issues. At the very least, and most optimistic, Nadal has a few Roland Garros titles in him, and, as for Federer, who would dare write off Federer, whatever happened versus Millman in New York?

Djokovic would also need the generations below him to continue struggling on the biggest stages. If Djokovic could carry his confidence over into the next season or two, his mental strength and game style would most likely mean he would be the favorite versus Thiem, Zverev, and Kyrgios, in slam matches, all of whom have failed to build on any significant advances in the major leagues, and all of whom are less likely to if Djokovic continues to make his experience count for him as he embarks on building up his slam count even further.

If Federer stopped his slam counting at 21 and Nadal did so at the same number, then Djokovic, now aged 31 would need 7 to tie them. He could get those titles, playing another five years, and would need ‘only’ two multi slam winning seasons to do it. Safe to say, the slower conditions of the US Open hard courts could be where Djokovic picks up another two slams, Wimbledon another two, Roland Garros another title, the Australian Open, another title.

It’s quite a stretch, there is no denying that, but, then again, who is better on the stretch than Djokovic? Even if he does not quite get there, slam tally wise, there would be plenty of arguments in Djokovic’s favor as to his Greatest Ever status, and in an argument which, unlike Grand slam finals, can never  be won, it’s all about how you play the game, and, in tennis history, what is not up for debate is that Novak Djokovic has done that as well as anyone.

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