Nadal and Djokovic look to add to their legend at the Australian Open and contain a brood of hungry youngsters

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Rafael Nadalthe man with the most Grand Slams in history, and Novak Djokovicnine-time champion in Melbourne, looking to expand his legend in Australian Openeven if to remain at the top of world tennis they will have to contain the incipient revolution of the young talents of the circuit.

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Although the prince of this new batch of talent, the Spanish world number one Carlos Alcarazwill be out injured, there are many hopefuls to end the tyranny of the Big Three: Nadal, Djokovic and the already retired Roger Federer.

It could be the turn of the Norwegian Casper Ruudnumber 2 in the world and finalist at Roland Garros and in New York, but the Dane is also on the lookout Rune Holgerthe Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime or Italian Sinner Jack.

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But since 2006, only the Swiss Stan Wawrinka in 2014 he was able to question in Australia the dominance of Federer, Nadal and above all Djokovic, who returns to his favorite tournament after the dramatic deportation of 2022 for not having been vaccinated against Covid.

“If we talk about favorites, the Saturday before the tournament starts, without a doubt, Djokovic is the favorite to win the title. But tournaments are not won on the Saturday before”Nadal himself said.

The 36-year-old from Manacor not only defends the title conquered in an epic way the previous year, but also the record of 22 Grand Slams, which Djokovic would equal if he won in Australia.

However, The Spaniard admitted feeling ‘vulnerable’with a losing streak of just one win in their last seven games.

“I’ve lost more than usual. I need to rebuild my momentum, I need to rebuild this confidence with myself through victories.”he acknowledged.

In addition, she had one of the toughest matches for the top seeds, the young and powerful Britons, in the first round Jack Drapper.

“If I can win the first game, I’ll have my options”predicted Nadal, who would not meet Djokovic until a hypothetical final.

Finally, the The 35-year-old Serbian arrives in Melbourne full of joy: winner of the ATP Finals and the previous tournament in Adelaide, elated to return to the compound where he holds “best memories” of his career.

Shot in the hamstring by Adelaide, Djokovic acknowledged he was in pain “with that a little in the last seven days”but he was confident he could play normally in his Tuesday debut against the Spaniard Robert Carballes.

Djokovic, dropped to number 5 in the world after a season excluded from the Australian and United States Open, faces the Melbourne Park tournament with the clear goal of equaling Nadal’s $22,000.

“That’s why I continue to play tennis professionally, because I want to be the best, I want to win the biggest tournaments in the world. It’s no secret”said the Serbian, who received a warm welcome from Australian fans.

“There are many young people who are very hungry, who want to win. They want to skin you in the big stadium. I know. But on this field, I have a chance against anyone.”affirmed a confident Nole.

However, the new lineage is willing to accelerate the change that began in 2022 which, for the first time in 19 years, ended without Nadal, Djokovic, Federer or the Scottish Andy Murray at the top of the ATP rankings.

“I think this year will be a new opportunity for many more new players to show their authority, make their mark in tennis and reach the elite of the sport.”warned the young Australian Alex de Miñaur, a Uruguayan father and a Spanish mother.

And between the two generations, other names emerge consider as the Greek Stephen Tsitsipas (number 4 in the world), the Russian Andrei Rublevthe controversial local idol Nick Kyrgios or German Alexander Zverevwho is recovering from the horrific ankle injury in the semifinals in Paris.

And don’t forget Russian Daniel Medvedev who, after losing the 2020 and 2021 finals to Djokovic and Nadal, hopes to enforce the saying “third time is a charm” to win his second Grand Slam after the United States in 2021.

By Daniel Bosco/AFP

Source: Clarin

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