12 January 2024

Eurosport tennis expert and former world number four Tim Henman previews the 2024 Australian Open. 

Comments on Novak Djokovic being the favourite: 

You have the Olympics in 2024 and when you talk about the four Slams, Olympics and Tour ending championships, these are six big events. In 2021, when the Olympics were delayed, you wondered whether Novak was trying to do too much and win the Golden Slam. But I’m sure he believes he can win every match and tournament he plays in. It’ll be interesting to see which tournaments he plans to attack because we know how much it means for him to represent his country at the Olympics. 

I think Novak will win another two Slams this year for sure. I think he wins one or two the next couple of years. Altogether, maybe four or five more Slams. When I was playing and Sampras won his 14th and retired, I thought no-one would ever get near that. Novak at 24, Rafa at 22 and Roger at 20 is just incredible. You can never write him off. Novak can end up with 28 Slams. 

Would it be a surprise for Djokovic to win the Olympics on clay?

You could put Novak playing on ice and I still think he’d have a good chance. Grass, hard or clay, he is the favourite. Maybe it’s a little unexpected for him to win Olympic gold on a clay court but he’s won Roland-Garros before and he’ll be in very similar surroundings at Roland-Garros. I hope he has the stamina as it will be a very physical and demanding season for him. 

 Comments on Rafael Nadal’s injury: 

I was really impressed at his level in Brisbane. It’s not easy to prepare when you’ve been out the game for so long. The three matches he played was a very good level which is why it’s frustrating for him and the tennis fans that he’ll miss the Australian Open and if he’ll play there again if this is his last year.  

Fingers crossed his injury is not too severe and he can get back playing again by the clay court season. You want to see the best play the best and out there competing not getting injured. If this is his last year, hopefully he gets the opportunity to show the world what he is still capable of. Fingers crossed he won’t be out for too long this time. He is such a great champion, has such a big following and will be missed by everyone in Melbourne. 

He said he wants to be playing well in three months’ time and it’s very obvious that he’s targeting the clay court season and another Roland-Garros title. Let’s see what his body is capable of.  

Can you see a dark horse doing well this tournament?

It's very hard to see anyone outside the top 20 or even top 10. The women’s – Swiatek is a clear favourite then you have Rybakina, Sabalenka then Gauff. After Djokovic, it’s probably Alcaraz, Medvedev, Sinner… Alex De Minaur has been playing well and I always like it when the homegrown players play well in a Slam. But I can’t see anyone outside the top 20 having a serious chance at winning. 

Speaking on Jannik Sinner: 

Alcaraz was ahead and has won two Grand Slams but Sinner has closed the gap. With the conditions in Melbourne and heavy balls, I think this suits Sinner as he hits through the ball so hard and still has the control. I think if Novak doesn’t win the Australian Open, I would say Sinner has a great chance. 

Comments on Carlos Alcaraz: 

He is still so young. Many people say he has the most complete game at that age and these players aren’t robots. There are times when they might not feel so good on the court. He won Wimbledon and finished number two in the world behind arguably the greatest male player of all time and people question how he finished the year. I don’t have any concerns as Carlos missed Australia in 2023. He will want to get down there and show the crowd what he can do. 

Comments on the ‘big four’ in the women’s game: 

Coco Gauff has really improved. The confidence she got from winning the US Open is huge. Last year Swiatek was number one but you could come up with a list of 25 players who can win a Slam. Now Swiatek, Gauff, Rybakina and Sabalenka are at a different level. Pegula is close but I’d be surprised if a winner doesn’t come from the top four.  

Same for the men – I’d be surprised if either Djokovic, Medvedev, Sinner or Alcaraz doesn’t win. 

I think Naomi Osaka will be back and win Grand Slams again but in her second tournament back, I’m not sure. Coming back from injury is one thing but coming back as a parent is amazing. It’s so great they get the opportunity and I hope she can play well. 

Tim Henman is an expert for Warner Bros. Discovery Sport's coverage of the Australian Open in Europe. Coverage starts on discovery+, Eurosport and Eurosport App from Sunday 14 January.


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