‘Dark horse’ Alexander Zverev backed to win the Australian Open over Novak Djokovic

Ewan West
Alexander Zverev and Novak Djokovic hugging
Alexander Zverev and Novak Djokovic

Retired WTA pro CoCo Vandeweghe has identified Alexander Zverev as her favourite to win the 2024 Australian Open men’s singles title over Novak Djokovic.

The former world No 9 labelled Zverev as a “dark horse” and claimed that “there’s always going to be a question mark seeing how Djokovic can recover” from his wrist injury.

Zverev inspired Germany to their triumph at the United Cup in Perth last week, winning his singles match and the decisive mixed doubles tie as his nation overcame Poland in Sunday’s final.

After Iga Swiatek downed Angelique Kerber in the opening rubber to give Poland a 1-0 lead, Zverev had to defeat Hubert Hurkacz to keep Germany’s hopes alive.

The world No 6 crucially saved two match points in the second set tiebreak as he overcame ninth-ranked Hurkacz 6-7(3), 7-6(6), 6-4 to send the final to a third and final tie.

In the mixed doubles match, Zverev and Laura Siegemund combined to see off Swiatek and Hurkacz 6-4, 5-7, 10-4 to clinch the United Cup with a 2-1 victory for Germany.

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World No 1 Djokovic struggled with a wrist injury at the United Cup and fell to a 4-6, 4-6 defeat to Alex de Minaur as Serbia lost to Australia in the quarter-finals.

The 36-year-old great did not seem overly concerned by his injury, though, after losing to the Australian.

“I think I have enough time to get myself in the right shape for the Australian Open, and that’s what matters the most at this point,” the Serbian said in his press conference.

“I think I’ll be okay, to be honest. It did have quite an impact, you know, particularly on the forehand and serve. Again, I don’t want to be spending too much time talking about it and taking away credit, the victory from de Minaur. I guess we move on, and for me, with my thoughts in Melbourne.”

Vandeweghe argued that the wrist issue was a concern for Djokovic and instead gave her backing to Zverev ahead of the Australian Open, while writing off Rafael Nadal’s chances before the Spaniard withdrew through injury.

“Well especially with Novak having the wrist injury that he had at the United Cup, I think there’s always going to be a question mark seeing how Novak can recover,” the 32-year-old American told Tennis Channel.

“But I don’t think he’s going to be a favourite in my book – Rafa Nadal. But it’s hard to count out a champion like that. It really is. I think my favourite, honestly, going in there is going to be Zverev. I’m calling dark horse Zverev.”

Vandeweghe, who played professionally between 2008 and 2023, won two WTA singles titles and the 2018 US Open women’s doubles crown.

Zverev is seeking his first Grand Slam title, having lost to Dominic Thiem in five sets in his only previous major final at the 2020 US Open after serving for the match.

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