Novak Djokovic will begin his Australian Open title defence on Rod Laver Arena on Day 1 as he and Jan Lennard Struff will close out the night session. Djokovic is seeking his eighth Australian Open title – a haul unmatched on the men’s side of the draw.
It wouldn’t be sensible to read too much into results at the ATP Cup but it can only be a confidence booster for the world No.2 that he went unbeaten on the way to his country taking the maiden version of the event. Amongst those victories was a straight setter against Rafael Nadal in the final, perhaps a sign of a things to come at the end of this fortnight. The Serbian will be eager to get back to winning ways having faltered at the US Open and allowing Rafael Nadal to nudge to 1 slam away from Roger Federer in the pair’s chase to finally catch up with his 20. “[My rivalry] with Roger and Rafa… is one of the motivations for me to still keep going at this age,” Djokovic said. “The three of us have inspired each other throughout our rivalries and careers to be better, to understand how we can overcome obstacles in the matchups.”
Struff achieved a career high of 33 last year but looks to have hit his ceiling as a player that can maintain a solid base in and around the top 50 but the next step is looking one too far for him. He did however achieve a career best fourth round at a slam last year, getting there in France and following it up with a solid third round at Wimbledon.
The run in Paris was ended by Djokovic who showed the clear gap between the two in a 6-3 6-2 6-2 victory. The Serbian is feeling good ahead of the event and should be considered the favourite until proven otherwise. “It was a phenomenal couple of weeks and great leadup to Australian Open. But it did take a lot out of me. I did adjust my training sessions towards that, so I had a little bit more of recuperation rather than just stepping on accelerator a little bit more.” He said on his preparation for the event. “I just actually kind of put a level down a little bit, just tried to keep the sessions a bit shorter, with good intensity. That’s all, just maintain the right rhythm for the first match.”
Prediction – Novak Djokovic in straight sets