With ranking points on offer, records to beat, and a major title to be won, the competition is heating up ahead of the 2021 Australian Open.
And as Roger Federer and Serena Williams have now confirmed their attendance, we’re expecting a star-studded cast of players to be heading down under to participate in the championships.
But this time around, it’s not just a grand slam title on offer.
For multiple players, next year’s edition of the Australian Open presents an opportunity to etch their names in tennis history.
The first of those being the reigning men’s singles champion Novak Djokovic, who announced on Wednesday that he’d be pulling out of the Paris Masters.
Djokovic told Serbian sports paper, Sportski Zurnal that he would not be defending his Paris Masters title this November, as the revised ranking system, originating from the coronavirus disruptions, would not enable him to win any additional points at the event.
But with ranking points on the brain, Djokovic’s sole aim is to break the record of having the longest reign at the top of the ATP world rankings, a record that is currently held by Roger Federer.
“I want to go down in history as the world number one with the most weeks at the top of the ATP Tour and I will do all I can to make it happen,” Djokovic Told Sportski Zurnal.
During his career, Federer has spent a record-breaking 310 weeks at the top of the ATP world rankings, with his longest consecutive run as world No.1 coming between 2004 and 2008, where he dominated the top spot for a whopping 4 and a half years.
But after climbing his way back to the top of the world rankings in August, Djokovic can now beat Federer’s record if he can lock down the top spot for the next 19 weeks.
To do this, he’ll have to pick up as many points as possible over the coming 4 months, which will include winning at the Australian Open in January.
Although he’s not the only one who’s looking to break one of Federer’s many records.
Djokovic was batted away by a sensational Rafael Nadal in the finals of the French Open this October, with the king of clay not dropping a single set in the 2020 tournament.
Nadal’s win in Paris earned him his 20th major singles title and brought him level with the men’s record for the most major singles titles won, an accolade that was previously held by Roger Federer.
View this post on Instagram
I have always had the utmost respect for my friend Rafa as a person and as a champion. As my greatest rival over many years, I believe we have pushed each other to become better players. Therefore, it is a true honor for me to congratulate him on his 20th Grand Slam victory. It is especially amazing that he has now won Roland Garros an incredible 13 times, which is one of the greatest achievements in sport. I also congratulate his team, because nobody can do this alone. I hope 20 is just another step on the continuing journey for both of us. Well done, Rafa. You deserve it.
Nadal can now overtake Federer and gain his 21st major championship with a win at the Australian Open next year.
“I would love to finish my career being the player with more Grand Slams,” said Nadal at a press conference after winning the French Open Final.
Plus if Nadal can win in January, he will enter an exclusive club of players, which currently includes, Serena Williams, Steffi Graf, Rod Laver, and Roy Emerson, who have all won each grand slam tournament more than once.
And I know what you’re thinking but surprisingly, neither Djokovic nor Federer are in that clique.
Despite his supremacy on the clay surface, Nadal’s track record on Melbourne Park’s blue courts leaves something to be desired, as after falling short in the finals on four occasions Nadal has only won the Australian Open once.
But with his current form, and after winning on the similar hard blue courts of the Mexican Open earlier this year, Nadal will be a dangerous threat to Novak Djokovic’s hopes of becoming the longest-reigning world number one.
Also on the cards is the 2020 U.S. Open champion, Dominic Thiem, who currently sits third in the ATP world rankings.
After losing to Djokovic in the final of the 2020 Australian Open, Thiem admitted he was somewhat dejected after falling short in consecutive major finals.
“Me and also the other players know how tough it is to get too deep stages of a slam, to give yourself chances to win one. So at the end, I was concerned after Australia,” Thiem admitted in a press conference at Roland Garros.
But with the U.S. Open now under his belt and a hunger to go one better this time round in Melbourne, Thiem could pose another worry for Novak Djokovic who will have to fend off both him and Rafael Nadal, who are hot on his tail in the world rankings positions.
Although Djokovic does have a slight cushion between him and Nadal, with 1,890 points separating the two rivals.
Yet with Thiem and Nadal expected to pick up ranking points in upcoming tournaments in Paris, Vienna, and London, and with 2,000 points up for grabs at the Australian Open in January, the pressure is all on Djokovic to maintain the gap over the course of the next 19 weeks.
“It’s all in my hands,” said Djokovic who has now committed himself to play in both Vienna and London this November.
“I can win up to 500 points in Vienna as I didn’t play there last year and there are also a lot of points available in London,” Djokovic said.
But we’re certain Djokovic will be keeping an eye on his trailblazers stating, “it depends also on Nadal and Thiem’s score until the end of this year, and also on the following Australian Open, but I am in a good position.”
With so much on the line, from records to break, ranking points to be won, and major titles on offer, it’s all to play for at the 2021 Australian Open.
Featured Image By: Eklektekuria // https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Djokovic.jpg // Released to public domain, no licence required.