Identifying the one player who can beat Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open

Kevin Palmer
Novak Djokovic celebrates
Novak Djokovic shouts during a match

The big names are lining up to try and end Novak Djokovic’s reign as the undisputed king of the Australian Open, but can anyone take down the ten-time champion in Melbourne?

Carlos Alcaraz turned in one of the performances of his career as he dismantled Djokovic’s Serbian compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic in a one-side fourth round clash, while Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev and Hubert Hurkacz are all live contenders in the last eight.

Here is your Tennis365 verdict on what comes next in the first Grand Slam of 2024, with Djokovic facing more threats than he has done in recent years.


Head-to-head: Djokovic leads 8-0

The past record between these two says all you need to know about what is likely to happen when the ninth episode of Djokovic vs Fritz is played out on Rod Laver Arena.

Djokovic has hinted the fast court in Melbourne may give big-serving Fritz a chance to end his miserable run against the world No 1, but the American appreciates the scale of his task.

“I think the conditions here are definitely better for me than maybe US Open or Cincinnati. I mean, to be honest, the only decent match I’ve played against him in our last couple of meetings was in Turin at the end of ’22,” said Fritz.

“In that match, I served for the second set. It was pretty close. Since then when I’ve played him, I’ve played pretty poor.

“I think that I have a lot more level to bring than I’ve previously brought against him. As far as playing me, hasn’t ever had a reason to change up what he’s doing or change strategy because it’s always gone his way.”

VERDICT: Straight sets win for Djokovic

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JANNIK SINNER – Djokovic’s potential semi-final opponent

Head to head: Djokovic leads 4-2

The young Italian became one of the few players to beat Djokovic twice in quick succession last November, as he won an ATP Finals group stage match and an epic Davis Cup semi-final match against the Serbian.

Both of those matches saw Djokovic struggle to cope with Sinner’s big serve and booming forehand, as the Italian deployed the only tactics that realistically worked against Djokovic.

Players who can take the racket out of Djokovic’s hands and hit through him have always given him trouble and that is why big servers like Hurkacz tend to give him worries.

Sinner will need to play lights-out tennis for at least three hours to get the three sets he would need to beat Djokovic at a Grand Slam for the first time and he is capable of doing that.

The trouble is, any dip in level allowed Djokovic to pounce and beating him in a best-of-three-set match is a very different prospect than getting the better of him over five sets.

Sinner needs to beat Rublev to set up a probable last four clash against Djokovic and what would be one of the most eagerly anticipated matches for some time.

VERDICT: Sinner will have gained confidence from his wins against Djokovic last November, but he has yet to prove he can maintain the brilliance he needs to beat the Srrbian over a five-set match.


Head to head with Alcaraz: Djokovic leads 3-2

Head to head with Medvedev: Djokovic leads 10-5

A Djokovic defeat before the final in Melbourne would be a big surprise, but he could face a huge challenge in the championship match.

Alcaraz and Medvedev are two players who have beaten Djokovic in Grand Slam finals and that is hugely significant as they aim to repeat their success.

An Alcaraz vs Medvedev semi-final would be a close contest after the latter got the better of the young Spaniard in the US Open semi-finals last September.

Yet it seems Alcaraz is coming to the boil after his sensational performance against Kecmanovic and he currently looks like the most likely candidate to beat Djokovic at this year’s Australian Open.

His forehand is firing at the velocity it needs to if he is to push the world No 1 onto the ropes and he also seems to be finding his feet on Rod Laver Arena in only his third main draw appearance in Melbourne.

Alcaraz achieved what seemed to be the impossible when he beat Djokovic in the 2023 Wimbledon final and if he could repeat the feat at the Australian Open, it may signal the beginning of a loosening of the Serbian’s control of the men’s game.

FINAL VERDICT: The threats to Djokovic are rising, but the greatest champion of them all is also reaching boiling point at the perfect moment.

Djokovic’s aura in Melbourne is hard to shake after his ten title wins at the Australian Open, but Alcaraz could be a player who can test him in the final match of the tournament.

Alcaraz and Sinner appeared to be edging closer to Djokovic over the course of 2023, but the 36-year-old has admitted the threat posed by the young guns is inspiring him to raise his game to new levels.

Can anyone beat Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open? Probably not, but all great champions are eventually dethroned and Djokovic’s reign will inevitably come to an end sooner rather than later.