Novak Djokovic looks to make it three straight grand slams this fortnight in Melbourne with the Serbian favoured to win his best slam. The Serbian is a six-time champion at the Australian Open but has been on a 2 year drought after winning five of the previous six. He is likely to keep his No.1 ranking at this event but a title would ensure he moves further ahead of No.2 Rafael Nadal. Djokovic opens his tournament on Rod Laver Arena against Mitchell Krueger.
Krueger is a name that many will not be familiar with if they don’t pay attention to the Challenger Tour and US events in particular. The American was touted to be a top college player before turning pro early on with a career high of No. 169 to date. He bounced back from six straight Challenger first round exits to qualify for his second straight slam. There couldn’t be a tougher task for Krueger, who won’t have played in front of such a sizable crowd before.
Djokovic is very popular in Melbourne, in part due to his huge success at the tournament. “I’ve had lots of success in Australia in the past. I think it’s also due to that support that I get from the Serbian community, but also people internationally that come to support all the tennis players during the next couple weeks.” he said. That he only made the second and fourth rounds at this event in previous years showcase the struggles he was having with injuries throughout 2017 and 2018. Before that, you would have to go back to Wimbledon 2008 for the last time Djokovic was defeated in a second round slam match.
There is potential for a repeat of the 2008 final in the second round, with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga a potential opponent for him.
Prediction – Novak Djokovic in straight sets