12 January 2024 Tweet
Eurosport tennis expert and two-time Grand Slam finalist Alex Corretja previews the 2024 Australian Open.
Comments on Novak Djokovic:
I think the tournament will be quite open. Hopefully Novak will be at 100% and it’s obvious he is winning there ten times and with a perfect last season. He needs to start slowly but I believe that he will be very difficult to beat. He has so much experience and can deal with the pressure to win Slams. He knows what he wants to do to keep winning Slams so he is a little bit ahead of the others. He is so important for the Tour and the tournament.
I think Novak could have a statue in Melbourne. I think you need to remember people as special when they achieve so much in one place. He is more than just a player.
There are a lot of players that can do well. The beginning of the season is always tricky as you haven’t played too many matches. This week he can keep improving. If he is healthy then he is ahead of the others. If you get Novak fresh, it’s so difficult to beat him.
Who are the main contenders for Novak Djokovic:
Alcaraz, Sinner can get closer. Zverev can do something big this year. You can’t forget Medvedev and Rune. Dimitrov is doing well, Tsitsipas likes Australia. There are a bunch of guys that can do well. These players need to show and feel they can do well without fear for their opponents. They have a lot of respect but they believe they can win. They all know Novak is the toughest opponent but until they face him, they won’t worry about him.
Carlos has been dealing well with the pressure but hasn’t played too many games coming into this tournament. He became world no.1 and another Major last year and has great variation. He will be ready and it’s a matter of rhythm because he hasn’t played a tournament yet. He will find the rhythm and this is something new for him.
This will be one of the best tournaments as it is a lot more open than in recent years where we thought Novak would win Australia and Wimbledon, Rafa would win Roland-Garros.
I think it will be here for many years until they retire. When that happens we can discuss who is the best. Sometimes we talk about results in the GOAT debate. Novak is already ahead. Then you go with who you like most. It’s like comparing different players but that’s so tricky. I love them all. Federer had something different, Rafa played incredibly, Novak has a great personality. Novak is already ahead but what is more important? Slams, David Cup, ATP Finals, weeks at number one, Olympics? There is no doubt that Novak is ahead now though.
On Rafael Nadal:
If Rafa is healthy, anything is possible. Novak has shown us that these guys can surprise everyone. For Rafa now, it’s a little step back but I don’t think he was 100% in Melbourne. It was more playing matches to see how far off he was off his opponents, how fast he recovered, and to be ready for the clay court season.
Playing the Olympics comes more and more popular in tennis because before it was kind of exhibition style. Now it’s so important for your career and country. It’s a good goal for everyone. For Rafa, it will be special as it will be at Roland-Garros in his garden. He will feel he’ll have more chances to do well if he is healthy. But best of three is different and more players will be able to sustain Rafa. It will be interesting, but the Olympics are always nice.
Hopefully he will go step by step and his muscles will adjust as well. He showed a good sign that the level of his tennis will grow.
Comments on Naomi Osaka:
She is a star, hits the ball hard always and can be very dominant with her game. I’m not sure where her footwork is but she has won Majors, been world no.1. She needs her rhythm and once she gets that she will be very dangerous as she knows how to deal with pressure. She is now a mum and maybe has a different perspective and she realises there is more than tennis. With family, you understand that life is not just tennis. Even if you are inside the Tour and everything revolves around it. I think she can do well but I’m not sure she can do well in Australia. She will be a nightmare for whoever faces her in the draw however.
Aryna has started the year well. She was world no.1 and played different Slam finals last year. She shouldn’t feel more pressure as a defending champion because it came at the right moment for her last year. It would’ve been different if it was a few years ago when she was just hitting hard. She realises she doesn’t need to hit every ball so hard. She can defend and hang in there and deal with important moment. I’m quite confident about her chances this year.
Comments on Coco Gauff:
Every time Coco played it was like the whole country and stadium was behind her. The atmosphere you could feel when she played was incredible. She dealt with that and it’s incredible that she dealt with it. Coco knows she can do it. The moment you hold that trophy, you feel like you can do it again. That’s what Coco did very well and she now has more experience even though she is still so young. She deals with pressure on and off the court and is involved in so many issues. A lot of respect for her because at her age, she has clear ideas and can step up and say what she thinks.
Alex Corretja is an expert for Warner Bros. Discovery Sports' coverage of the Australian Open in Europe. Coverage starts on discovery+, Eurosport and Eurosport App from Sunday 14 January.