Novak Djokovic can win as many grand slams as Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, according to his former coach Boris Becker.

After over two years without a major victory amid a slump in form and persistent elbow injury, a rejuvenated Djokovic returned to the peak of his powers to win Wimbledon in 2018.

The Serbian has since triumphed at the US Open and Australian Open to take his grand slam haul to 15, two shy of Nadal and five behind Federer.

Djokovic will hold all four majors simultaneously for the second time in his career if he wins the French Open in June, though Becker considers Nadal favourite to triumph at Roland Garros for the 12th time in his career.

However, the German believes his former pupil can still amass a record-breaking number of grand slam titles.

"A lot can happen in a year either way. I mean, you've seen it. Yes, on paper, he's 31, he's won 15 majors, yes, there's a possibility he can reach 20," Becker told Omnisport at the Laureus World Sports Awards 2019.

"But who says that Roger isn't going to win another one. I always liked his chances at Wimbledon on the grass. Who says that Nadal isn't competing for it? He was in the final in Melbourne. He's certainly the favourite in my book for the French Open, and then he has 18, there's only two more for the French.

"So, it's a good problem to have because ultimately, you want to be the most successful of all time and what a challenge. What a moment in all three players' lives."

Expanding on whether Djokovic can depose Nadal at the French Open, Becker said: "First of all, it's amazing that he's in a position to do so. Very few players in the history of tennis can say that.

"Now, playing Nadal at the French is the most difficult tennis match you're ever going to face. Novak has done it a few times, he's beaten him one time on the year when he won the Grand Slam, and that's going to be the match.

"The way the rankings are, I think it's one and two, the earliest it can be is in the semi-final - I mean, what a match! Who wouldn't want to watch that match? History will be re-written, but there's a lot of tennis to be played until then.

"Players are going to the hard courts in America and on the clay in Europe so hopefully nobody gets injured, they keep the momentum, they play enough, but not too much. So the French Open should be an amazing high."

Roger Federer has his sights trained on a ninth Wimbledon crown in 2019 and, at the age of 37, says his position in the ATP rankings is of little concern.

The Swiss legend endured a disappointing exit at the Australian Open last month, going out in the fourth round to Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Although he was denied the chance for a third straight triumph at Melbourne Park in sensational fashion, Federer's hunger has not been dimmed as he chases a 100th ATP Tour success, which will surely arrive this season.

And Federer was unequivocal in identifying his goals for 2019 when he faced the media at the launch of the Laver Cup in Geneva on Friday.

"Wimbledon obviously, also now Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami," he said.

"I really would like to make a good season start, maybe that could launch the clay season and Wimbledon but I think Wimbledon yes, the US Open and after also the Laver Cup and the World Tour Finals at the end of the year.

"I continue my career... I'm motivated, I feel good and I'm looking forward to the future.

"The goal is always to have a level of play high enough to beat Rafa [Nadal] and [Novak] Djoko[vic] and as soon as it is so high so you can play against them and maybe win, that means that the classification will normally follow.

"For me, the classification at 37 years is not anymore the priority."

 

 

 

Stan Wawrinka and Donna Vekic have done their best to cheer up Andy Murray following his latest hip operation, gifting the Briton an enormous teddy bear.

Murray could have played his last competitive match, having acknowledged before the Australian Open that he was close to retirement due to continued hip trouble.

The three-time grand slam champion duly had hip resurfacing surgery in London earlier this week, but it remains unclear whether he will attempt to return to the ATP Tour.

As he recovers, Murray has received a boost in the form of an amusing present from Wawrinka - an opponent of his for more than a decade - and the Swiss' girlfriend, WTA star Vekic.

Murray posted a photo on Instagram of a giant teddy, accompanied with the caption: "Big thanks to @stanwawrinka and @donnavekic for the get well soon teddy bear.

It's absolutely huge. My kids will be fighting over this when I get home" #stantheman"

 

Andy Murray hopes a hip resurfacing operation will leave him pain-free in the future, but it remains to be seen if he will return at the highest level after undergoing the procedure on Monday.

Murray broke down in tears at Melbourne Park this month when the three-time grand slam champion revealed the Australian Open could be his final tournament, but he hopes to feature at Wimbledon for one final time.

The Brit said he would make a quick decision over whether to have surgery after losing to Roberto Bautista Agut in the opening round of the first major of the year.

Murray went under the knife in London, knowing the operation may not prolong his career.

Omnisport look at the timeline of Murray's hip woes.


June 27, 2017 – The start of Murray's plight. A sore hip forces him to withdraw from an exhibition match at the Hurlingham Club on the eve of Wimbledon.

July 5, 2017 – Murray reveals he has been managing a hip problem for at least seven years ahead of his Wimbledon title defence. "It is something I have been dealing with since I was 22 or 23 years old, off and on," said Murray, who thought the pain he felt following his French Open semi-final loss to Stan Wawrinka was due to a lack of playing time.

July 12, 2017 – Murray – noticeably struggling with his hip – loses in the Wimbledon quarter-finals, ousted in five sets by Sam Querrey.

August 26, 2017 – After withdrawing from two Masters events, Murray then pulled out of the US Open just two days out from the tournament in New York. "It's too sore for me to win the tournament and ultimately that's what I was here to try and do," said the Scot.

January 8, 2018 – On the back of his Brisbane International withdrawal six days earlier and following consultations with hip specialists during the latter stages of 2017, Murray undergoes surgery in Melbourne. "I'm very optimistic," Murray said. "The surgeon was very happy about how it went. He felt that my hip will be feeling better than it did a year ago."

June 6, 2018 – Murray's return to the court is delayed as he pulls out of the Rosmalen Grass Court Championships.

June 19, 2018 – Having not played since Wimbledon, Murray makes his long-awaited comeback in a three-set loss to Nick Kyrgios at Queen's Club.

July 25, 2018 – Murray tastes victory for the first time in almost a year, beating Wawrinka, before falling to compatriot Kyle Edmund at Eastbourne.

July 1, 2018 – Wimbledon comes too soon for Murray, who cites his lack of readiness for best-of-five-set matches.

August 3, 2018 – Murray returns to the ATP World Tour in Washington, where he reaches the quarter-finals of the Citi Open before pulling out of that tournament and the Rogers Cup amid concerns over exhaustion and the potential to suffer a recurrence of his hip injury.

August 29, 2018 – New York sees Murray make his grand slam comeback, falling to Fernando Verdasco in the second round after seeing off James Duckworth.

September 29, 2018 – Murray brings his season to an end by pulling out of the China Open following his quarter-final run at the Shenzhen Open.

January 2, 2019 – His comeback at the Brisbane International ends with a second-round defeat to Daniil Medvedev.

January 11, 2019 – Murray reveals his plans to retire at Wimbledon, but could quit after the Australian Open.

January 11, 2019 – The Scot bows out of the Australian Open with a defeat to Roberto Bautista Agut after fighting back from two sets down to go the distance.

January 28, 2019 – Undergoes hip resurfacing surgery in London, which leaves the 31-year-old feeling "battered and bruised" but hopeful of being pain-free in the future. 

Public speaking may not be Naomi Osaka's forte, but awkwardness in front of a microphone need not harm the commercial prospects of the new Australian Open champion, according to a sports marketing expert.

Novak Djokovic strengthened his grip on the world number one spot after victory at the Australian Open, while breakout stars Stefanos Tsitsipas and Frances Tiafoe earned career-high rankings.

Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic said he will "recharge" and rest before mounting a French Open challenge in his pursuit of the grand slam record.

Djokovic made history on Sunday, becoming the most successful Australian Open men's player with a seventh title after annihilating Rafael Nadal in Melbourne.

World number one Djokovic sent shockwaves through the tennis world following his stunning 6-3 6-2 6-3 demolition of second seed Nadal as the Serb star captured a 15th grand slam.

After a whirlwind 24 hours, which took him to the picturesque Botanical Gardens on Monday, Djokovic was focused on recovery ahead of the French Open.

"The relief is the first thing that happens because there's so many expectations, and emotions and tensions involved in anticipating the grand slam [tournament]," Djokovic told reporters.

"Living through it those three weeks takes a lot out of you. So the first thing I'm going to do is recharge my batteries and obviously then, you know, have time to reflect."

Djokovic is the current Australian Open, US Open and Wimbledon holder, with the 31-year-old closing in on Roger Federer's slam record of 20 trophies.

After surpassing Pete Sampras to move into outright third on the all-time list, May's French Open presents Djokovic with the opportunity to hold all four majors simultaneously.

The French Open, however, has been a difficult slam for Djokovic with just one success in 2016 amid Nadal's stranglehold at Roland Garros in Paris.

Nadal will be eyeing a 12th French Open and 18th slam crown, and Djokovic added: "I did put a lot of pressure on myself in the past and lost several finals in a row and then I managed to win it in '16.

"I mean, talking about relief, winning the French Open in 2016 was the biggest relief I ever felt in my entire life. So the approach obviously to the French Open this year will be quite different. I will be more experienced with this situation."

He continued: "I don't want this to sound arrogant but I've done it once, why not do it again? I'm one slam away from that.

"I'm not the only one who has been in this situation before. Nadal and Federer have been holding three out of four many times throughout their careers.

"Everything is possible in life so that's kind of a philosophy that I have."

Novak Djokovic dropped just eight games in his Australian Open final thrashing of Rafael Nadal in an incredibly one-sided decider on Sunday.

Novak Djokovic joked Roy Emerson was "p*****" to lose his record for most Australian Open titles.

Novak Djokovic believes he played "a perfect match" in his record-breaking Australian Open final win over Rafael Nadal on Sunday.

Rafael Nadal labelled Novak Djokovic's Australian Open final performance "unbelievable" and felt he lacked the match practice to compete with the Serbian.

Djokovic thrashed Nadal 6-3 6-2 6-3 in Melbourne on Sunday to win a record seventh Australian Open title and 15th major crown, moving him past Pete Sampras and into outright third on the all-time list.

Playing competitively for the first time since last year's US Open and coming off ankle surgery, Nadal was dominated on Rod Laver Arena.

Asked about Djokovic's performance, Nadal paid tribute to the 31-year-old, but said a lack of matches hurt his chances against his rival.

"He played I think fantastic. At the same time, it's true that when he's playing that way, I think I needed something else," the Spaniard told a news conference.

"I was not able to have that extra thing, being honest. It was unbelievable the way that he played, no doubt about that.

"But at the same time it's true that probably physically I was not able. I played fantastic tennis during both weeks, it's true, but probably playing that well, I didn't suffer much during both weeks.

"Five months without competing, having that big challenge in front of me, I needed something else. That something else probably, I don't have it yet. That's my feeling, to compete at this super high level.

"I think I was playing great during the both weeks in offensive positions. In defensive positions, I practiced what I practiced. I practiced well, very well I think, but because of the things that happened to me in terms of surgery, then what happened in Abu Dhabi, I was not able to work that much the defensive game. I worked a lot on the offensive game, but not that much on the defensive game.

"To play against a player like him, playing the way he played, I needed that defensive game to finally have the chance to be offensive. When he was hitting, it's true that maybe it was difficult to beat him even if I was at my 100 per cent. But probably it will be a little bit more of a fight."

Djokovic made a flying start and never looked back, Nadal committing 11 of his 28 unforced errors in the first set.

But the 17-time grand slam champion dismissed any suggestions nerves played a part early in the encounter.

"What on other days have been a serve and a ball that I can have in offensive position, today have been in defensive position. That's not nerves. That's things that happened quicker than what happened the previous days," Nadal said.

"I don't like to say he played unbelievably well because it looks like you find an excuse for yourself. The real thing is he played so well. He did a lot of things very difficult unbelievably well. He hit so long. His return was fantastic. He was super quick.

"I really believe that he was able to work very hard in the off-season on his movement. He was moving unbelievably well. I felt that good shots came back with offensive position for me, after not a bad shot from me, I have been in the defensive position."

Rafael Nadal will keep working hard in his bid to win the Australian Open again despite suffering a humbling defeat at the hands of Novak Djokovic in this year's final.

Novak Djokovic described the Australian Open as the best tournament in the world after clinching a record seventh title in Melbourne a year on from elbow surgery.

Novak Djokovic secured a record seventh Australian Open title with his thrashing of Rafael Nadal in Sunday's final.

The Serbian star moved on to 15 major crowns after dismantling Nadal 6-3 6-2 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena.

Almost half of Djokovic's grand slams have come in Melbourne, including his first in 2008.

We take a look back at all of his Australian Open successes.

2008 – A maiden grand slam title

Aged 20, this was Djokovic's fourth main-draw appearance in Melbourne and his previous best had been the fourth round the year prior.

But he produced a flying run to the final, beating Lleyton Hewitt in straight sets in the last 16 and top seed Roger Federer in the semis.

Djokovic, the third seed, was left with a surprise opponent in the final and he made the most of his chance, coming from a set down to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

It was the first grand slam since the 2005 Australian Open not won by either Federer or Nadal.

2011 – The beginning of complete Melbourne dominance

Djokovic had to wait three years for his second title in Melbourne, but it started a wonderful run of dominance.

He was largely untouchable again on his way to the final, including wins over top-10 seeds Tomas Berdych and Federer.

Djokovic crushed Andy Murray 6-4 6-2 6-3 in the decider to win the first of an incredible three grand slams in 2011.

 

2012 – Coming through two epics

This would be a major best remembered for two matches – Djokovic's semi and final.

He took almost five hours to get past Murray in the last four in a match that seemed certain to ruin his chances in the decider.

Somehow, Djokovic came through that too, beating Nadal 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 in the longest Open Era grand slam final, which went for a gruelling five hours, 53 minutes.

2013 – Hat-trick complete

Djokovic extended his winning streak at the Australian Open to 21 matches with a third straight title.

He became the first man in the Open Era to win a hat-trick of titles in Melbourne.

Djokovic took five hours to get past Stan Wawrinka – the man who would break his run the following year – in the fourth round before again beating Murray in a final.

 

2015 – Another Wawrinka marathon, another Murray final

Fernando Verdasco and Milos Raonic were unable to stop Djokovic and, this time, Wawrinka failed too.

Djokovic beat the Swiss star in a five-set semi-final before a familiar face stood between him and another title.

Murray managed to split the first two sets, but Djokovic ran away with it from there 6-3 6-0 for a fifth crown.

2016 ­– Record equalled after Simon scare

It was the fourth round that proved to be the biggest scare in Djokovic's bid for a record-equalling sixth Australian Open title.

But he got through another gruelling five-setter, this time against French 14th seed Gilles Simon.

Kei Nishikori, Federer and Murray were unable to stop him from there as Djokovic joined Roy Emerson on six Australian Open crowns.
 

2019 – Record claimed in flawless fashion

For a six-time champion and the world number one, this seemed like a quiet run by Djokovic.

He dispatched of up-and-comers Denis Shapovalov and Daniil Medvedev, spent less than an hour on court with an exhausted Nishikori and was almost flawless against Lucas Pouille.

Only Nadal stood between him and a record seventh Australian Open title in a repeat of their epic 2012 final.

And Djokovic may have saved his best performance for the final, dismantling Nadal in just over two hours.

Novak Djokovic delivered the most emphatic reminder as to why he is the king of Melbourne with his stunning triumph over a stunned Rafael Nadal.

The Serbian alone can now lay claim to the crown at the Australian Open, winning a record seventh title by crushing long-time Nadal on Sunday. But even by his incredibly lofty standards, what Djokovic produced on Rod Laver Arena was special.

This was a display of the utmost precision at times verging on baseline bullying. A ruthless rout of a fellow all-time great who simply had no answer to the irresistible force on the other side of the net. This was the most startling example of what Djokovic can do on the Melbourne stage.

The 15-time grand slam champion – only Roger Federer (20) and Nadal (17) have claimed more – won 13 of the first 14 points and never looked back, romping to a 6-3 6-2 6-3 victory in just two hours, four minutes.

Djokovic went about his business relatively quietly on the way to the final, with Greek sensation and Federer conqueror Stefanos Tsitsipas taking most of the attention, alongside Nadal and his new serve. 

Remodelled and improved, Nadal's serve had not faced a test like this – and it did not hold up. The world's best returner was on the opposite side of the draw, and on Sunday the opposite side of the net. Nadal had almost nothing to offer in response, not via the serve or the forehand, as Djokovic hit lines and corners at will.

Nothing comes free from Djokovic and Nadal couldn't even get anything cheap. The Serbian lost just 13 points on serve. He committed just nine unforced errors.

Nadal was bidding to become the first man in the Open Era to win each of the majors twice. Now, he will have to defend his Roland Garros kingdom to stop Djokovic doing just that.

And the 'Nole Slam' is back on for a second time. Djokovic holds every major except the French Open. Only three men – Don Budge (1938), Rod Laver (1962 and 1969) and Djokovic (2015-16) have claimed the non-calendar year Grand Slam. None of his great rivals have managed what Djokovic is on the verge of doing twice.

A trip to the French Alps may have revitalised Djokovic last year, but he needs no invitation to rise to his best in Melbourne.

And on Sunday he took his crown, producing a performance befitting of a king.

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