‘Big group’ set to challenge the dominance of Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic and Holger Rune

Former World No 1 Stan Wawrinka believes that Novak Djokovic won’t lack for fierce competition throughout the 2023 season.

Djokovic has made a great start to his campaign despite picking up an injury in Australia and looks set to be the favourite every time he enters a draw this term.

There are big injury question marks hanging over his major rival Rafael Nadal but Wawrinka believes that Djokovic won’t be allowed to cruise to titles.

He feels there is a large group of players who want top honours and, what’s more would simply love to notch a win against Djokovic.

The three-time Grand Slam champion wrote off his own chances of being among the players challenging Djokovic for top honours as he beats a steady path back from injury.

Wawrinka told the ATP Tennis Radio Podcast: “I’m far away from that that’s for sure, I’m not going to be there.”

The Swiss star believes that on his day, Djokovic is untouchable on a tennis court.

“For sure, when Novak is playing and is fit and ready, and mentally there, he’s the best player in the world.”

Despite his absence from much of the 2023 season so far, Wawrinka believes that you can never write off Nadal at Roland Garros.

Nadal bested Djokovic in the last eight in 2022 despite only being able to play with the aid of numbing injections into a troublesome foot.

A new treatment for Mueller-Weiss Disease has changed Nadal’s life but the veteran has had other injury concerns at the start of this season.

However, Nadal seems to get a boost when he steps onto the clay of Roland Garros and Wawrinka thinks another meeting between the icons in Paris would be too close to call.

“I think we of course need to be careful with Rafa on clay. It’s going to be interesting to see what’s going to happen at the French Open,” he added.

Wawrinka doesn’t believe the challenge will be limited to Nadal with a large pool of players having the potential to win big titles.

“I think there is a big group of players. There is Medvedev, he is always there. There is Tsitsipas, he is an amazing player,” Wawrinka added.

“You have Alcaraz, you have Sinner. You have a few different generations that are fighting to win the bigger titles of the year.”

Tomas Machac of the Czech Republic has the honour of being the first post-Australian Open opponent for Djokovic with the pair set to meet in the Round of 32 at the Dubai Tennis Championships on Tuesday.

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