Nadal, Djokovic Closing In On Federer; Australian Open Picks And Pans
by Sean Randall | January 19th, 2020, 10:00 am

Here we go again. It’s like that song lyric, “Nothing changes on New Year’s Day”, because that’s tennis. Nothing does seem to change year-to-year or in the case of men’s tennis, decade-to-decade because the guys at the top seem to be cemented there. Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer continue to own men’s tennis and it’s not ending. Not yet.

So the Big 3 are it in Australia but there’s at least hope that they’ll get some competition. Stefanos Tsitsipas showed a lot of progress last year making the semifinals at Melbourne. Daniil Medvedev had his run over the summer. There’s the young Italians Matteo Berrettini, who made the last four in New York, and countryman Jannik Sinner has been held in high regard, and rightfully so, the kid has a huge game. Russians Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov are now playing catch-up to Medvedev, the former is off to a perfect start in 2020.

And then there’s the Canadian duo of Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime. Shapovalov looks like he’s come to play this year while Felix may be bumping his head on a ceiling for now.

Alexander Zverev is still only 22, but he seems to have been around forever. And he has and I think it’s starting to take a toll. Racking up those losses behind those double faults, maybe he needs to sit out a few months, get his head right. Watching the ATP Cup, it looked like he just isn’t having any fun playing the game.

We also have some of the older guys like Dominic Thiem, Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic.

But bottom line, can any of these guys take this title away from the Big 3? Not this month. Not with the Grand Slam title leaderboard in a serious state of flux.

And really, in Australia it’s just a Big One and that’s Djokovic. Federer’s not going to win and I don’t think Nadal can beat Djokovic in a final. So let’s break this draw down starting with Rafa.

After fizzling out at the end of the ATP Cup, Rafa will be thrilled to get a comfy first week in Melbourne. But things could get interesting quickly in the fourth round where either Nick Kyrgios or Karen Khachanov could be lurking. Both guys should get out to that match and even though Nick’s a big match player, I like Khachanov there but not enough to follow up and beat Rafa. Nadal’s quarterfinal opponent is a tough pick. Thiem hasn’t been great Down Under, Monfils is an unknown, Taylor Fritz isn’t it, and I don’t think Kevin Anderson is back to his peak level. There’s also Auger-Aliassime and he’s intriguing but he just doesn’t have a quality win since the summer. So I just can’t pick him (though I want to!). Instead, I’ll go Monfils to beat Thiem in the fourth and meet Rafa, and you know what happens there.
The Pick: Nadal

With Medvedev, Zverev and Rublev, we’ll have a good look into the future of tennis in this quarter. Former champion Wawrinka is in there as well, but I don’t think he’s where he once was. Same for John Isner, David Goffin and JW Tsonga. Their best days are in the past. So sorry, out with the old, in with the new, and that means Medvedev and Rublev who I think will collide in the quarters. Medvedev opens with a tough test against 2019 quarterfinalist Frances Tiafoe, then should cruise to the fourth round, beat Wawrinka (who takes out Isner) and set up that Rublev showdown. I think Andrey, who just won back-to-back titles to start the year, beats Goffin in a good one and gets past Nikolaz Basilashvili who ends Zverev’s hopes. In the end, Medvedev is too consistent for the hyper-aggressive Rublev.
The Pick: Medvedev

Federer is the man in this section but I have a sneaky suspicion this one goes upside-down. There’s Berrettini, Borna Coric, Shapovalov, Dimitrov and Hubert Hurkacz. Plus Sinner and his elder Italian Fognini who meets Opelka. So there are a heap of dangerous guys who can’t necessarily win a Slam right now, but can cause an upset here and there. And that’s how Federer gets clipped. The guy who’ll do it is Hurkacz in the third round. But that’s not all. This one will probably bite me, but I’ll take Coric to beat Berrettini, then Guido Pella followed by Shapovalov in the quarters. Denis has looked good this year, so I think he beats Sinner and Dimitrov and takes out Hurkacz in the fourth. And my semifinalist?
The Pick: Coric

It’s too bad for Tsitsipas (and really anyone) to have landed with Novak because he is by far the favorite and his section is by far the easiest. There’s really just Novak, Tsitsipas and maybe Roberto Bautista Agut capable of making the semis. Marin Cilic is in there, Dan Evans is decent, Milos Raonic is meh, Diego Schwartzman struggles against the big guys so it’s going to be one of those three. I think Tsitsipas and RBA meet again in Melbourne and Greek gets through to face Djokovic. And I’ll go with the Serb in that one.
The Pick: Djokovic

Medvedev d Nadal: Gets revenge for the US Open.
Djokovic d Coric: Easy win into the finals.

Djokovic d Medvedev: Novak’s got just too much variety for the youngster.

So, there we have it. A 13th straight Slam title for the Big 3. Does it end this year? Well, ya got Nadal winning in Paris and tying Roger, then the question is can a young kid do well at Wimbledon? Grass is tricky, so no. That leaves New York where maybe Medvedev or Tsitsipas comes through. Maybe. But I’m jumping way ahead.

One thing to look for this week is injuries. Guys left a lot out there during the ATP Cup and that makes then a little vulnerable this early in the season. If Novak or Nadal go down with something (sadly, the fires/smoke might play a role also), then a Tsitsipas or Medvedev could be holding the trophy two weeks from today.

And who knows, Roger said he was going in with low expectations, but he’s won the Australian Open two of the last three years and did have match points in that Wimbledon final. Perhaps he has one more run left in him.

That said, we are getting closer to the day when a Big 3 will no longer be favored to win a Slam. It’s coming…

Until then, enjoy the history.

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19 Comments for Nadal, Djokovic Closing In On Federer; Australian Open Picks And Pans

Wog Boy Says:

You should take in consideration that AO changed court supplier (again).
It’s not Plexicushion anymore, it’s GreenSet Worldwide owned by Javier Sanchez Vicario, he might lay the courts little bit in his countryman favour;)
The courts are exactly the same colour as the old ones, so you wouldn’t know it’s different supplier and they don’t play same as the old ones, though if you listen Craig Tiley they play the same.

Wog Boy Says:

No bad feeling Sean, but what were you smoking when you picked Coric as the semifinalist?
Have you actually watched him in ATP Cup?
BTW, neither him nor Shapovalov are doing well atm, they both lost first sets, still time to turn the things around though.

Andy Mira Says:

Agree with u WB!….Coric is done already!…In straight sets too!…

“This one will probably bite me!”…heheheh…u’re right on that one Sean!…Ohohohoho!!..Sorry Sean for laughing!but it’s pretty funny!…No offence k?Thousand apology!

Dave Says:


I totally got burned with Coric and Shapovalov. I picked them to go fairly deep. What a terrible start for me. I did pick Fognini to lose today. So that’s looking good.

RZ Says:

Oh man, Sean wasn’t the only person who chose Coric as a semifinalist. The tournament is only a few hours old and my bracket is already screwed. 🤣😂😅

Wog Boy Says:

RZ, you and Sean should change your supplier.

RZ Says:

LOL Wog Boy. I was going to go with Federer and then decided I should pick an upset somewhere in my bracket. Bad idea, as I always pick the wrong one!

Wog Boy Says:

RZ, if I am betting man, Federer would be safe bet for SF in his quarter.

Andy Mira Says:

Dave,RZ!…Sorry for u guys bad start!…but hey!…cheer up k?It’s still lonngggg way to go!

Btw feel a little bit sad.😯..our TX bracket not attracted much participation from txer’s this time…Sorry for RZ!…and thank u so much for keep doing this to us…Much appreciated Rz!😙

RZ Says:

Thanks AM. It’s all good. Fewer entries mean a higher probability of winning (or in my case, coming in last LOL)

Andy Mira Says:

Don’t give up yet RZ!…It’s only day 2!..👍
Btw….Tourneytopia a little slow in updating the point right?It’s still 0 even day 2 already halfway thru….

Dave Says:

Thank you AM. At least I got an upset correct. I picked Gulbis who was a qualifier to beat Felix AA. But I definitely got a lot of matches wrong in the first round. haha.

RZ Says:

@AM – yes, Tourneytopia has been quite slow the last few tournaments. Maybe I’ll see if anyone else runs a bracket.

@Dave – I was tempted to pick Gulbis to win that match but didn’t. I always have trouble knowing when to trust Gulbis to do well versus when he’s going to flame out (same with Monfils). I had also picked Fognini to lose, but he decided to gut out his match.

Dave Says:


I agree with you. It’s hard to know when to trust certain players. But that’s how I feel about Felix as well, so maybe that made it easier to pick Gulbis who had already won qualifying matches and had to work to get there. Had the Fognini match not been delayed, he most likely would have lost.

Andy Mira Says:

Dave….at least u’re 2nd in the Bracket despite that many losses!.Good job Dave!..hehe…

Btw …r u interested in doing a Bracket every week Dave?If so,let’s join our group jalep wildguess in tennis draw challenge…The more,the merrier!…U r welcome!

Akın Says:

You have got to be high! Coric in semi! There is no Federer!

Dave Says:


I like doing it for the majors. Just for fun. I’m not sure if I can do it every week. haha. I can check it out though. Do you have a link for it? is it the same format as the majors? Thank you.

Andy Mira Says:

Hey Dave!…Ohh not interested doing weekly?that’s alright Dave!..i understand…In our group there’s about 30 members…but only 5,6 of us a hardcore pickers…including me!hehe…

Btw…my phone is suffering a malfuntion i can’t give u a link…but u just go to tennis draw challenge and if u’re interested,register & pick a group k?Mine is jalep wildguess…the format not much different than Tourneytopia…but much more simple & terms of updating the points & filled out the qualies in every tournament…

Like the other day when u asked RZ about the qualies,TDC already filled them all in the Bracket…they’re also very quick in updating the points(every half hour i think)..unlike Tourneytopia who waited until all matches is done to do the same…so for me,TDC is very satisfying if u’re crazy about tennis picking & stuff…hehe…Good luck Dave!

Andrew Miller Says:

Sean’s picks have disintegrated. This tournament is WILD. Federer survived, Nadal, Djokovic thriving so far. Nice to see Raonic on his feet.

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