Scouting Report: 10 Things To Watch At The Australian Open
1) The Trivalry: Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have combined to win 13 of the past 15 Australian Open titles, eight straight Grand Slam championships overall and 51 of 62 majors dating back to Federer’s breakthrough victory at Wimbledon in 2003. The living legends return to Melbourne Park as No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 in the ATP Rankings (Djokovic, Nadal, Federer) and No. 1, No. 2 and tied for No. 3 on the Grand Slam title leaders list (Federer 20, Nadal 17, Djokovic 14, Sampras 14).
2) Dominance Down Under: Djokovic and Federer each own six Australian Open titles, tied with Roy Emerson for the most in tournament history. While Federer won the past two titles at the year's first major, Djokovic was upset by Denis Istomin in the second round in 2017 and by Hyeon Chung in the fourth round last season. The 31-year-old Serbian rebounded during the second half of 2018, sweeping titles at Wimbledon and the US Open, helping him become the oldest year-end No. 1 in ATP Rankings history.
3) By The Numbers: Federer’s next title will be the 100th of his career at tour-level. The Swiss has triumphed in 19 countries and at 31 tournaments, winning finals over 49 different opponents, 57 Top 10 players and 67 younger challengers. He’s earned 15 wins after losing the first set of a final (including the 2006 Australian Open), captured 20 trophies without dropping a set (including the 2007 Australian Open) and successfully defended 35 championships overall (including the Australian Open in 2007 and 2018).
4) Battle For No. 1: Nadal will regain the No. 1 ATP Ranking on 28 January if he wins the Australian Open title and Djokovic does not reach the fourth round. The Spaniard is celebrating the 10th anniversary of his lone Australian Open championship, as he edged Federer in five sets for the 2009 trophy.
5) Three-Time Champs: Despite the dominance of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka have each captured three Grand Slam titles. They will continue their comebacks from injury at the Australian Open, where Wawrinka won the 2014 title and Murray is a five-time finalist. Murray announced at his pre-tournament press conference that due to the hip injury that forced him to undergo surgery last January, he will retire, at the latest, at Wimbledon this year.
6) Who’s Next: No players currently under the age of 30 have won a Grand Slam championship. The player who is leading the charge to change that is World No. 4 Alexander Zverev, who swept Federer and Djokovic to capture the 2018 Nitto ATP Finals title. The 21-year-old German also owns three ATP Masters 1000 titles.
7) Russian Revolution: Last season, 22-year-old Russians Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev each won three ATP Tour titles, broke into the Top 20 of the ATP Rankings and earned more than 40 tour-level victories. Khachanov ended the regular season with four consecutive Top 10 wins to capture the Rolex Paris Masters title.
8) New Kid On The Block: Like Khachanov, Next Gen ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas earned four straight Top 10 wins at a Masters 1000 event last year (Toronto). The 20-year-old went on to capture the Stockholm title, becoming the first ATP Tour champion from Greece.
9) No. 1 Aussie: Alex de Minaur, 19, is already the highest-ranked Aussie. Since the start of 2018, the Sydney native has risen from outside of the Top 200 to inside of the Top 30 and achieved a new career-high ATP Ranking 19 times. He just earned his maiden ATP Tour title at the Sydney International, and he was runner-up to Tsitsipas at the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals.
10) Double Up: Will Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic be able to claim their second Grand Slam title and retain their Australian Open trophy? Leading the way in an attempt to dethrone the Austrian-Croatian pair are Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, who reunited in Brisbane in the first week of the year for the first time since last year’s Mutua Madrid Open, where Bob Bryan hurt his hip, forcing the left-hander to miss the remainder of the 2018 season. Mike Bryan won Wimbledon, the US Open and the Nitto ATP Finals with Jack Sock.