Australian Open is Roger Federer’s only chance of Grand Slam win this year, says Mats Wilander
The Australian Open provides Roger Federer his only chance of Grand Slam glory this year, Mats Wilander told Eurosport.
Federer is a six-time champion in Melbourne, and the 37-year-old is targeting a third-straight victory in the opening major of the season.
Federer's potential route to the final
R1 Istomin, R2 Qualifier, R3 Monfils, R4 Tsitsipas, QF Cilic, SF Nadal, F Djokovic
After winning the Australian Open last year, Federer skipped the French Open for the third time in a row before losing in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the fourth round at the US Open.
This year, Wilander – a three-time champion at the Australian Open – says Federer’s hopes of a 21st Grand Slam lie solely on the hard courts of Melbourne Park.
“I think it’s his only chance of a major these days,” said Wilander, who will be co-presenting the ever popular Game, Schett and Mats for Eurosport during the Australian Open.
“The Australian Open hasn’t been the quickest of hard courts in the past couple of years, and if I was the tournament director, there is no way they wouldn’t keep it that way because it favours [Nick] Kyrgios, most Australians, and definitely Federer.
“So long as it’s not too physical for Federer in the first four rounds, I would say he is as dangerous as he has been before.
“As long as Nadal shows up and plays, and can compete, I say we’re looking at an unbelievable men’s tournament. These three guys are somehow hanging on, and there’s definitely the arrival of the younger guys.
“If Andy Murray shows up 100 per cent we would be going into the most interesting men’s tournament in years.”
Meanwhile, Djokovic heads into the tournament as the world No 1 and favourite after winning Wimbledon and the US Open last season.
There will be some doubts hanging over the Serbian after losing finals in London and Paris, as well as in the Doha semi-finals last week to Roberto Bautista Agust, but Wilander believes he is well-placed to win a record-breaking seventh title in Melbourne.
“With Djokovic, I would not worry about losing in London and Paris. They’re not really related, here it’s five sets and he’s won here six times before,” Wilander added.
“It’s a new situation where he’s losing finals, also losing to Roberto Bautista Agut, how fit is he? Is it a case where he didn’t want to put the pedal to the metal?
“But yes, he will be the favourite because he won Wimbledon and the US Open.”