Australian Open 2020: Analyzing Novak Djokovic's chances of winning a record 8th title in Melbourne
It has been barely two weeks since the start of the new year, and the roar of a certain Serb called Novak Djokovic is already ringing in the air.
The tennis season got an extra special start this time with the introduction of the ATP Cup, which was played across three cities over a span of 10 days. And there was one man who clearly owned the court: Djokovic led his country to an exhilarating win over Spain in the final, laying down a marker for the rest of the season.
The 16-time Grand Slam champion is in razor-sharp form after enjoying a brilliant 2019, and looks hungry for more. The Serb had displayed tremendous class and poise en route to a ruthless victory against Rafael Nadal in the 2019 Australian Open final, and there's reason to believe a similar scenario could be repeated this year.
Handing the Spaniard a straight-sets defeat in a Slam final is an astonishing achievement on its own - this was the first time it had happened - but aside from that Djokovic also overtook Roger Federer and became the first person to hold seven Australian Open titles.
The one thing about Djokovic that separates him from the rest is his miraculous ability to look danger in the eyes and come out unscathed. Gifted with nerves of steel, Djokovic's patience and perseverance on the court know no bounds. The 32-year-old can bounce back from impossible situations and can even make up for any lapses in concentration with his clever shot-making skills and mental stamina to keep fighting.
The 2019 Wimbledon final is perhaps the perfect example of that. It was the longest final in the history of the Big W, stretching for four hours and 57 minutes, and Federer looked dangerously good for most of it. The Serb on the other hand wasn't at his best, but he still managed to fight off two championship points and turn the match around at the very end.
The saga drew to an end 7–6(5), 1–6, 7–6(4), 4–6, 13–12(3) in favor of Djokovic. Although there were many hearts broken that day as a crestfallen Federer looked close to tears, the Serb sure did teach the world a lesson.
In a stadium full of people chanting his opponent's name, on a surface favored by the opponent, the World No. 2 held his ground and snatched the title from the brink of disaster. Powered on only by his steely determination. Djokovic made the world sit up and take notice of his superhuman abilities once again.
The other blockbuster match of his 2019 season was the French Open semifinal clash against eventual finalist Dominic Thiem, which was stretched out over two days owing to rain interruptions. Djokovic fought hard in that match too but ultimately came up just short.
Djokovic collected two Grand Slams in 2019 and three other titles - including two Masters 1000 trophies at Madrid and Paris - to reassert his all-court dominance.
The recently concluded ATP Cup should serve as a warning sign to the rest of the players given how it transformed into the 'Djoker Show' towards the end. Winning all six of his singles matches and two doubles matches for Team Serbia, Djokovic was the preeminent player of the tournament as he guided his country to the trophy.
His ruthless version was on display once again in the final and especially in the match against Nadal, who was representing Team Spain.
Having had such a fantastic start to the year, Djokovic will undoubtedly go into the Australian Open as the odds-on favorite. He is always in his comfort zone in Melbourne and enjoys a stellar record against all his chief rivals there; it will take a brave person to bet against him claiming an 8th Australian Open title and 17th Slam overall.