12 January 2024 Tweet
Eurosport tennis expert and six-time Grand Slam winner Boris Becker previews the 2024 Australian Open.
Who are the men’s singles favourites?
The clearcut favourite is Novak Djokovic, who won the tournament 10 times, which is an outstanding achievement. Having said that, we have to watch this space because he's not getting any younger and he’s had a small injury. But, when a tournament starts, he's the number one play in the world. Carlos is the number 2 player in the world. Thankfully, he's part of the Australian Open as he was injured last year. He looked good indoors - I don't think it's his best surface, but he looked good in the ATP final. There’s Daniil Medvedev, no.3. He always likes to play well in Australia and has been in the final before. Jannik Sinner is, not only the no.4 play in the world, but the second half of last year he really came out and started playing his best tennis, beating Novak in the ATP final. I think he likes Melbourne, and I think he likes the surface. Those four players are for me to four favourites. Yes, you have others. Tsitsipas has a very strong fan base and plays really well. I also have to mention my player, Holger Rune, who reached the fourth-round last year and made the final in Brisbane.
Who are the women’s singles favourites?
I’m really happy to see seen Naomi back. She’s a 4-time Grand Slam champion. She took time out for a very valid reason, because she became a mother. But she's still a very young tennis player, and I'm happy that she she's back to her first love, tennis. She seems motivated, she seems in good form. We’ve also had Angie Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki back after having children, which is great. It’s so important to have superstars playing in the big tournaments. Women's tennis, like men's tennis, need rivalries. They need fans to identify themselves with players and that usually happens when a player is around a bit longer, when she's successful and has won a couple of majors. It's great for the tournament and the names are really good that are participating in Melbourne. So, I'm excited.
The tennis world doesn’t seem to belong to young players anymore. You retired at 32. Do you think that in this era you could have played more and achieved more?
It was a different time. In my day, teenagers were more successful. I played 17 years which is a long time. It just happened to start at 15 and finish at 32. Nowadays, most players are not ready to play full time hours at 15 or 16 but, my generation was. It also meant that the wear and tear would eventually get you. But I have absolutely no regrets and would do it all over again. I think players are more protected nowadays. The schedule has changed now, the sports science has improved, the players take longer time outs. Whether that's the umbrellas on the court or the time between points or between sets. We didn’t have all this. It’s a completely different world now but I like this world. I think it's better for the sport and I think it's better for the players.
Comments on Franz Beckenbauer:
I was very sad to hear the passing of Franz. We call him the Kaiser, the Emperor. I considered him a role mole and mentor because we were close friends. I could ask for him for advice and guidance, and I knew it would come from the heart and from experience. He was a very unique personality and I like the fact that internationally everybody agreed with me that he was a unique footballer. He was a unique coach, a unique president, and a real ambassador of the sport. He represented everything that the sport is known for which is respect for your opponent, fair play, giving your best. I think very few sportsmen around the world have that. He was looked upon in Germany with extreme high regard, and I think, following the last couple of days, internationally as well.
What do you think Andy Murray can achieve at this Australian open and realistically, do you think it's probably going to be his last Australian open?
I would never rule Andy out. I think as long as he has fun, enjoys it, and has success, he will continue to play. I think he's physically fit enough but obviously the tennis circuit doesn't sleep, and Andy isn’t getting any younger. The competition is full 22, 24 year olds now and he's 36, so the clock is ticking. But I'm sure he's going to do well this year and I'm sure he's aiming for successful Wimbledon.
Commentating with Nick Kyrgios:
I would have liked to see a match where we would both commentate sitting next to each other. But he joined the Eurosport International team out of Melbourne and I joined the Eurosport German team out of Munich. So, unless we get connected through the Cube, I don't think there's anything happening there. Ultimately, we both love the game. We love tennis. We like to comment on a good match, and I think that's the bond we have. We have a difference of opinion, but that's normal. I think we agree that we want to see great matches in a great tournament, and this is why we're doing this job.
Boris Becker 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.