Mats Wilander picks his Aussie Open favourite and says Rafael Nadal has ‘a problem’
Seven-time Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander believes Novak Djokovic is the man to beat heading into this year’s Australian Open, particularly with conditions not suiting Rafael Nadal, and he suggested Aussie hero Nick Kyrgios could be a dark horse to enjoy a long run in the tournament in front of his home fans.
Eurosport analyst Wilander believed the five-set format favours the established champions who have dominated the game for the last 15 years, as he backed Djokovic to add to his haul of 16 Grand Slam titles in Melbourne and suggested a familiar cast list including Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will be his chief rivals once again.
“Novak Djokovic has won the Australian Open seven times and I think he’s the big favourite once again,” began Wilander.
“I think Rafa is the second favourite because of doing well in Davis Cup and now he is playing well in ATP Cup. He hasn’t really taken a break at the end of the year so I don’t think we will see a reaction from Rafa until after the Australian Open.
“So for the Australian Open I think that Novak is the slight favourite ahead of Nadal and then I think Roger Federer and Stefanos Tsitsipas and other players like Daniil Medvedev are in the mix, but I would say Novak is the big favourite for sure.”
Despite his backing for Nadal to enjoy another long run in Melbourne, Wilander suspects Nadal may struggle to draw level with Federer at the top of the Grand Slam-winning charts, as he targets his 20th major title.
“I really think that the Australian Open has become a little bit of a problem for Rafa,” adds Wilander. “The main reason why it is a small problem for Rafa is that the courts are playing very fast.
“I would say it is the fastest hard courts that they play on the whole year and I think for Rafa he has improved on every different surface, of course, he has, but when it comes to playing on a fast hard court to me it’s his worst surface.
“Obviously indoors is not good either but fast hard court is not a great surface for him because everybody else, they enjoy playing against Nadal on a fast hard court.
“So if Novak is in decent form, I think he is by far the favourite to win the Australian Open because he knows how to, he’s done it so many times. He knows if I can win the Australian Open I am going to have a great year, it’s a good start of the year. ”
All courts and all matches from the Australian Open are live and exclusive on Eurosport and Eurosport Player.
Roger Federer sends his fans into a frenzy with Twitter post ahead of his return to action
Roger Federer fans are counting down to his return to action in Doha next week and his tweet teasing his return instantly became a big hit.
Iga Swiatek’s perfect week as she claims her second WTA title
Iga Swiatek won her second career WTA title with victory over Belinda Bencic in the final of the Adelaide International.
Jamie Murray says quarantine threat on tour means players must be ready to adapt
The doubles specialist plans to travel to tournaments in Mexico and Miami next month without knowing what to expect on arrival.
Battle of the Brits event is back and this time with spectators
The Battle of the Brits events were a huge success during the Covid-19 crisis and now they are set to return with spectators.
The only way is up for Naomi Osaka as she looks to replicate hard-court success on clay and grass
Oli Jefford on the world being Naomi Osaka’s oyster.
Britain’s strength in depth in doubles highlights quality of structure
British tennis may be wondering who can replace Andy Murray, but they have a very different story to tell in the doubles arena.
Rafael Nadal pulls out of his next event due to ‘ongoing’ back problem
Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the ABN…
Lleyton Hewitt to be inducted into International Tennis Hall Of Fame
Former world No.1 Lleyton Hewitt is the latest player who will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Five of the best men’s matches at the Australian Open featuring Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Rafael Nadal, and more
The matches that made us sit up and take note.
Five of the best women’s matches at Australian Open featuring Naomi Osaka vs Garbine Muguruza, and more
Five of the best women’s singles matches at the 2021 Aus Open.