Tennis-Five top contenders for the Australian Open men’s crown

(Reuters) – Five top contenders for the men’s title at the Australian Open, which starts on Monday:

NOVAK DJOKOVIC

The former world number one is looking to match Rafa Nadal’s record of 22 Grand Slam titles and returns to Australia hoping to make headlines on the court following his deportation last year over his COVID vaccine stance.

Djokovic overcame a hamstring issue and saved a championship point in Adelaide to win the final and maintain his unbeaten streak in Australia, which now stands at 33 matches since his last loss in the fourth round of the 2018 Australian Open.

The 35-year-old is seeking a record-extending 10th title in Melbourne.

RAFA NADAL

Nadal is looking to defend his hard-earned 2022 crown and is the de facto number one in Melbourne following the injury withdrawal of fellow Spaniard and U.S. Open champion Carlos Alcaraz.

The 36-year-old did not have the best of starts to the season, however, losing both his matches in the inaugural United Cup.

But Nadal put that down to rust having skipped tournaments in an injury-ravaged 2022 season where he won four titles, including two majors.

DANIIL MEDVEDEV

The former world number one will be hoping to make it third-time lucky in Melbourne after losing the 2021 and 2022 finals to Djokovic and Nadal, respectively.

Medvedev has slipped to eighth in the rankings but the Russian counter-puncher and hardcourt specialist has vowed to find a way to rediscover his 2021 form when he won his first major at the U.S. Open.

NICK KYRGIOS

The mercurial Australian has not played on tour since October and did not play in tune-up events due to a niggling injury, but such is his talent that he could walk into the main draw without match practice and still swat opponents aside.

Kyrgios won the doubles title in Melbourne and followed it up with a run to the Wimbledon final where he lost to Djokovic, who has agreed to play the 27-year-old in a practice match on Rod Laver Arena before the Grand Slam kicks off.

CASPER RUUD

Last year marked a turning point for Ruud who made deep runs in tournaments and reached finals of Grand Slams, Masters and the season-ending ATP Finals — only to finish on the losing side every time.

Ruud even had the opportunity to clinch the world number one spot before Alcaraz triumphed in the U.S. Open final.

A claycourt specialst, Ruud has adapted well to hardcourts and learned to manage five-set matches. He has his eye on another deep run in Melbourne having moved up to third in the rankings.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Nick Mulvenney)

tagreuters.com2023binary_LYNXMPEJ0B08L-BASEIMAGE

tagreuters.com2023binary_LYNXMPEJ0B08N-BASEIMAGE

tagreuters.com2023binary_LYNXMPEJ0B08P-BASEIMAGE

tagreuters.com2023binary_LYNXMPEJ0B08Q-BASEIMAGE

tagreuters.com2023binary_LYNXMPEJ0B08R-BASEIMAGE