Daniil Medvedev is the “strong favorite” to win consecutive Grand Slams at the Australian Open, according to Mats Wilander. The Swedish legend predicted that the US Open champion will have “no problem at all” beating Nick Kyrgios in the second round on Thursday.
The Russian lost to Novak Djokovic in the Melbourne final last year, but took revenge on the world’s number 1 in New York.
Nine-time champion Djokovic was deported for the first Major of the season to leave 2009 winner Rafa Nadal as the only former champion in the field.
The Spaniard is also making an offer to set a new male record of 21 Grand Slam singles titles to break the tie he shares with Djokovic and Roger Federer.
But Eurosport tennis expert and seven-time Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander said: “I think Daniil Medvedev is the strong favorite because of the way he plays.
“You have to go after him, you have to beat him because he’s not going to beat himself. He’ll be restrained if he has to, he’ll come in if he can.
“But he will have a great attitude, whoever he plays against – Nick Kyrgios in the second round is no problem at all.
“He is really starting to become a Rafa… [Nadal], he just shows up for every match and you know what to expect and he delivers.
“I think he is the strong favourite, but if someone comes out with firearms like Zverev did at the ATP Finals, then someone can definitely beat Medvedev.”
Wilander added: “I think you can lose motivation once you win a Grand Slam, depending on where you are in your career, but for Medvedev, winning a Slam came at a good time.
“He could dominate for the next four or five years, not in terms of winning three Slams a year, but in terms of getting to semi-finals, getting to finals, probably winning one or two Slams a year.” Medvedev becomes the man who can consistently move to the later rounds of Majors and when you do, you win some.”
Medvedev will be denied “the challenge” to beat Djokovic at his most successful Slam this year – or perhaps ever.
The world No. 2 said: “I remember last year where I was like, Well, okay, that’s a good challenge, trying to stop him. Was far, far away to do that.
“Actually I like challenges so I would like to have the chance to play against him again maybe in the finals or something here at Rod Laver, even if he beat me or not it’s a good challenge and I love challenges in my career .
“But it can’t change my approach, because there are still seven tough games to win. When we talk about the US Open, where I beat him in the final, it was the same. I had six tough matches against tough opponents to get into the final. And no matter how I do here, no matter how far I get, if I’m in the final, who I’m playing against, it’s not going to be easy and you have to try your best to win a Slam.”
Medvedev will also have to overcome the fervent local support when he takes on Kyrgios tomorrow in the high profile night game at the Rod Laver Arena.
“It certainly won’t be easy against the crowd,” said the Russian. “He’s going to try to pump himself up, he likes to play big names.
“But I will do my preparation, I will try to play well. If I play well it will not be easy for him and probably we will have a good game.”
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