What a difference a year makes. In early 2022 Novak Djokovic was ready to take on the world’s best at the Australian Open, hoping to secure his tenth title, but he was forced to give up on that dream after being deported due to his COVID-19 vaccination status.
Now the former world number one has been given the all-clear to compete in Australia and will start by taking part in the Adelaide International in the run-up to the first Grand Slam of the year.
The 35-year-old may have slipped down the rankings, but he is still considered by most wagering sites to be the favorite for the title in Melbourne. If you fancy placing a wager, you should check out the best tennis betting sites, where you can read more about which sportsbooks offer the best odds and markets for your wager.
Djokovic, who is currently fifth in the world rankings, finished 2022 in style by winning the ATP Finals and will hope to secure his 22nd Grand Slam title win in Australia, a feat that would put him level with Rafael Nadal.
Speaking on the subject of just how capable Djokovic is, even in the latter stages of his glittering career, Swedish tennis great Mats Wilander believes it’s only his own personal motivation that can hold him back now;
“I see Nole as the big favorite, ahead of Medvedev, who is at his best on the concrete courts, and Nadal, the defending champion. The only thing that can betray Djokovic is his desire to do too much, to prove, after everything that happened to him in Australia a year ago, that this tournament is his home.”
Chief among his competitors will be current world number one Carlos Alcarez, with the Spaniard becoming the youngest-ever player to hold that spot at the end of a calendar year.
Alcaraz won the US Open in 2022 and secured a quarter-final finish at the French Open and decent displays at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon. The teenager also won at the Miami Open and the Madrid Open over the course of a hugely successful year, which saw him finish with a 57-13 record.
His coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero, is glad that Djokovic will be competing in Australia and believes the presence of the Serb will help Alcaraz become a better player;
“I think for Carlos to improve his tennis; he needs to play against one of the best in the history. Of course, Rafa [Nadal] is there to play against him – and Novak, we need him.”
“In Madrid, Carlos played against Novak, and he increased his level to try to win the match, so that’s what we need, to play in the Slams against him; I think it’s very important for Carlos to improve,” Ferrero added.
Alcaraz has a 100% record against Djokovic, albeit from just the one match that they’ve played in on the tour thus far, and it would take a brave individual to call out a winner should these two meet in the sweltering Australian heat in January.