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Australian Open 2020: Defending Novak Djokovic says tournament is 'really open' ahead of first Grand Slam of the year

Australian Open 2020: Defending Novak Djokovic says tournament is 'really open' ahead of first Grand Slam of the year
Reigning Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic says the tournament field is wide open ahead of the first Grand Slam tournament of 2020.

The Serbian star, who helped his country to victory at the ATP Cup at the weekened, has been installed as the bookmakers' favorite to retain his title in Melbourne later this month.

But Djokovic said the challenge of retaining his title will be tougher than ever, with legitimate championship threats coming not just from the established stars, but also from a crop of talented rising contenders looking to make their mark in the first big tournament of the year.

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"I think it's really open, the Australian Open or any other slam," he told reporters.

"I don't think there are really clear favourites. You have obviously (Roger) Federer, Nadal, myself because of the experience and everything and the rankings that we get to be probably named the top three favourites.

"But then you have Medvedev, (Stefanos) Tsitsipas, Dominic Thiem that are really showing some amazing tennis."

Djokovic's form looks ominously good heading into the tournament. He defeated world No. 1 Rafael Nadal at the ATP Cup final to register his ninth straight hard-court win over the Spanish star, and also recorded victories over Russia's Daniil Medvedev, former Wimbledon finalist Kevin Anderson and talented rising stars Christian Garin and Denis Shapovalov during the competition.

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It means Djokovic is the clear man to beat heading into the tournament in Melbourne, with the onus on the other two members of tennis' "Big Three" – Nadal and Roger Federer – to mount a sustained challenge.

But Djokovic said the challenge wouldn't just come from the established order, and revealed that he wouldn't be surprised if one of the up-and-coming stars of the game breaks through to win a big tournament soon.

"They showed that they matured on the big stage, that they can challenge the best players in the world and win against them," he said.

"So everybody keeps on talking about NextGen player winning a Slam. It seems like it's getting closer. Hopefully not this year. We'll see."

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