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Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will be toppled more often than not in the Grand Slams this year, according to renowned tennis coach Mats Merkel. The world’s best tennis stars are heading out to Australia this week to begin their 14-day quarantine ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year.
Roger Federer will not be competing as he continues to recover from his double knee surgery last year but both Nadal and Djokovic are once again the hot favourites heading into the tournament.
Stan Wawrinka – in 2014 – is the only man other than Nadal, Djokovic or Federer to win the Australian Open since Marat Safin’s triumph back in 2005.
For several years now, the question has been raised at the start of each season on who could topple the sport’s ‘Big Three’.
Dominic Thiem stopped that run in the 2020 US Open, beating Alexander Zverev in a five-set thriller.
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And Daniil Medvedev won the season-ending ATP Finals in London in the biggest hint yet of a changing of the guard.
Still, Djokovic reigns supreme in Australia while Nadal is still regarded as the ‘King of Clay’ at Roland Garros.
But Merkel believes that Djokovic and Nadal will only win one Grand Slam between them if all four majors go ahead as planned in 2021.
“It will be a very interesting year. If all four Grand Slams can be played regularly, I lean out the window and say that three of the four will not be won by Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal,” he told Tennis Net.
And Merkel has believes the younger generation are beginning to showcase their true talents.
“Dominic is the absolute showpiece model because it is constantly developing. I am impressed by how he got out of the Corona era and won the US Open,” he added.
“It’s a shame that he didn’t crown the year with a victory at the ATP Finals. I would have totally indulged him.
“Sascha Zverev has a lot of construction sites, but great potential. It starts with his serve.
“If he can get this under control and improve it, he will be able to position himself completely differently when it comes to structuring points.
“Stefanos Tsitsipas played rather average for his standards in 2020. But I’m still excited about all the guys. For me there are also Felix Auger-Aliassime , Grigor Dimitrov and Denis Shapovalov too.
“They are all far from finished. Dominic also has reserves for how he can improve. He knows that too.
“And I’m impressed how the guys keep sitting down and pondering how to get better.”
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