Daniil Medvedev accepts the 'Big Three' will be hard to stop at the Australian Open, but said he was gaining confidence from facing the all-time greats.

After a superb 2019 that included a run to the US Open final, Medvedev is considered one of the contenders in Melbourne, where the year's first grand slam starts on Monday.

But 14 of the past 16 Australian Opens have been won by Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal, and the trio are again the favourites.

Medvedev, the fourth seed who will face Frances Tiafoe in a tricky opener, said regularly facing the greats gave him confidence.

"I think playing against them from time to time, especially the further you go in the big tournaments, the more chances you have to play them," he told a news conference on Saturday.

"The more times you play them, the more you know where you are comparing to them. For example, match in ATP Cup, Novak was kind of all over me. I managed to get back, almost win the match. I mean, he still won it. They won the whole ATP Cup. But I felt I was really close.

"Matches like this give you confidence to see that you're able to do it, but it's really tough."

Medvedev's run to the final at Flushing Meadows was the first time he had been beyond the fourth round of a grand slam.

The Russian, 23, said he was eyeing at least the quarter-finals in Melbourne this year.

"It's always tough to answer. Good Australian Open is to win it, but if you ask me what I'm going to be happy about, it always depends of course who you play, who you lose to," Medvedev said.

"But I would say I will be happy with quarters. As I always say, for me the first goal is to win it step by step.

"If I'm in quarters, I'm not going to be there and say, 'Okay, I've done my goal, it's enough for this tournament.'

"Any tournament I play, I want to win it. But quarters will be satisfying, I would say."

Defending champion Novak Djokovic could meet Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the Australian Open, while Venus Williams has again been pitted against Coco Gauff.

Gauff produced one of 2019's most remarkable results when she beat five-time Wimbledon champion Williams in the first round at the All England club, and the 15-year-old will again face her compatriot in the opening round of 2020's first major.

Serena Williams starts her latest quest for a 24th grand slam singles title against another teenager, Anastasia Potapova, and she could be on for a quarter-final against defending champion Naomi Osaka, who plays Marie Bouzkova in round one.

Ashleigh Barty, who heads into her home slam at the top of the WTA rankings, begins her campaign against Lesia Tsurenko and could meet last year's runner-up Petra Kvitova in the last eight.

Fourth seed Simona Halep takes on Jennifer Brady in round one, with Maria Sharapova facing a difficult opener against Donna Vekic and second seed Karolina Pliskova meeting Kristina Mladenovic.

World number two Djokovic faces a tough start to his title defence in Melbourne against Jan-Lennard Struff, who climbed 20 places in the ATP rankings between January 2019 and this year.

Federer, seeking his 21st grand slam title and seventh in Australia, begins against American Steve Johnson and could face a round-of-16 match with Grigor Dimitrov, who won their last meeting at the quarter-final stage of the US Open.

Djokovic is on course to meet Federer in the semis but Stefanos Tsitsipas, who has beaten the Serbian twice in four meetings, may lie in wait first at the quarter-final stage.

World number one Rafael Nadal meets Hugo Dellien in the first round and could face home favourite Nick Kyrgios in round four.

Dominic Thiem could await Nadal in the quarter-finals, the Austrian beginning his quest for a maiden grand slam triumph against Adrian Mannarino.

World number four Daniil Medvedev has a difficult opening match against Frances Tiafoe, with Alexander Zverev a possible last-eight opponent.

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have made a joint donation of 250,000 Australian dollars to the bushfire relief fund.

World number one Nadal announced the decision while taking part in the star-studded Rally4Relief event, which also included the likes of Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams.

"Talking with Roger we decided to give 250,000 Australian dollars to the fire relief together," Nadal said when he was addressing the crowd.

"Hopefully that keeps inspiring the people to support this terrible disaster we are going through and helps to recover all the things that we need."

Players have announced a range of ways to support the bushfire relief efforts ever since Nick Kyrgios declared he would pay $200 for every ace he hits during the Australian summer, as well as calling on Tennis Australia to organise Wednesday's event.

Nadal, Federer and the other players involved took part in a series of matches and challenges while wearing a microphone to entertain the Melbourne crowd.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Naomi Osaka, Caroline Wozniacki, Coco Gauff and Petra Kvitova all took part.

Williams donated all of her Auckland Open winner's earnings and each of the dresses she had worn during the tournament after her victory in New Zealand last week, while Djokovic has also made a contribution.

The event came after Australian Open organisers imposed a two-hour delay on the start of qualifying matches due to the "very poor" air quality.

Bushfires across Australia have resulted in the deaths of at least 28 people, while an estimated 10 million hectares of land has been burned since July 1.

The Rally4Relief helped the overall fund reach just under $5million

Federer said: "Incredible number, so much needed, hope it keeps going. The Australian Open is only just around the corner now and hopefully much more money will come together. This was definitely an incredible kick off.

"This country all comes together for other people and that is a true inspiration for other countries around the world who are watching this now."

Novak Djokovic believes there is no clear favourite for the men's singles at the Australian Open and says the 'big three' will be challenged at the opening slam of the year.

The last 12 majors have been shared between Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, with Stan Wawrinka the last man other than the trio to win a slam at the 2016 US Open.

Djokovic impressed during the inaugural ATP Cup last week, scoring wins over Nadal, Daniil Medvedev and Kevin Anderson en route to helping Serbia to glory.

The 16-time slam winner accepts the usual suspects will be considered favourites in Melbourne, but tipped the likes of Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Dominic Thiem to challenge.

"I think it's really open, the Australian Open or any other slam," Djokovic told reporters.

"I don't think there are really clear favourites. You have obviously Federer, Nadal, myself because of the experience and everything and the rankings that we get to be probably named the top three favourites.

"But then you have Medvedev, Tsitsipas, Dominic Thiem that are really showing some amazing tennis.

"They showed that they matured on the big stage, that they can challenge the best players in the world and win against them.

"So, everybody keeps on talking about a NextGen player winning a slam. It seems like it's getting closer. Hopefully not this year. We'll see."

While Djokovic and Nadal have geared up for the Australian Open by playing the ATP Cup, helping Serbia and Spain to the final respectively, Federer opted to stay home and train in his native Switzerland.

Federer insists he has no fitness concerns despite not playing a competitive match since November.

"I've trained long and hard in the off-season and I didn't have any setbacks, which is crucial," Federer said.

On the continued success he, Djokovic and Nadal have enjoyed, Federer added: "I'm aware that at 38 I shouldn't be the favourite, it should be someone probably in their 20s, but the three of us have been able to stay as the favourites, which is great for us.

"Both guys are already showing great signs. I was watching a little bit of their ATP Cup match and thought that was a great match.

"Both guys, injury free, are always tough to beat."

Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams and Roger Federer are among the players who will participate in a pre-Australian Open exhibition match to raise funds for bushfire relief efforts.

The legendary trio will feature in the AO Rally for Relief at Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday January 15.

Huge blazes have left 26 people dead and killed millions of animals, while also destroying thousands of homes in Australia.

The event in Melbourne next week will form part of the Aces for Bushfire Relief program, launched by Tennis Australia last week.

"This unprecedented bushfire crisis is devastating people, properties, communities, livestock and animals across the country and our hearts go out to all those affected,” Tennis Australia chief executive and Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said.
 
"We felt it was vital we use all our events across the summer to make a meaningful contribution to help these people and communities rebuild their lives.

"The response from the tennis community – our players, clubs, partners and international tennis bodies – has been overwhelming and it’s wonderful to see everyone pull together.

"The world's top players, boasting many grand slam titles between them, have committed to AO Rally for Relief and we look forward to announcing the line-up in the coming days.

"The players are keen to be involved - we’ve had a tremendous response from them and they are keen to help.  
 
"AO Rally for Relief promises to be an incredible night of tennis and entertainment, as well as a wonderful opportunity to bring together the best of our sport for this important cause."

Many male and female players have pledged to donate funds for those affected by the bushfire crisis for every serve they hit, while Simona Halep will pay $200.every time she gives coach Darren Cahill a hard time during her matches.

Out with the old and in with the new.

Happy new year! Happy new decade! To your health, and to your wealth. May your future be prosperous and your family live in abundance.

Remember when we'd greet each other with such forceful cheer, way back in 2020? When Donald Trump was merely a White House tweeting machine, and not yet a challenger to Jack Nicklaus' golf majors record.

This is a message dispatched from Tuesday, January 1, 2030, and you've just swallowed the theory that the so-called former "commander-in-cheat" might legitimately win not one golf tournament but upwards of 18 against the world's elite.

The funny thing is, had it happened, perhaps it would not have been the most seismic event of the past 10 years - a turbulent, anything-goes period in sporting history.

Some will tell you sport in the 2020s reached its nadir when FIFA's executive committee needed three days of meetings before ruling out staging the 2029 Club World Cup in the cities of Chernobyl and Pripyat. You can't, it turns out, carry out urban regeneration within a nuclear exclusion zone, not even with the best will in the world and the 100% backing of CONMEBOL.

Others will look to the NFL appointing Sarah Sanders as its commissioner. Here, in any case, is an advance snapshot of the decade you're about to live through.

A 39th game in the Premier League ... and goodbye to VAR! 

By the dawn of the 2020s nobody doubted heads could be turned by great wedges of cash. The Premier League's long-mooted '39th game' finally got the green light, with an extra round of fixtures being staged in the United States in 2023 - predictably overshadowed by a routine weekend of college football.

Away from dollar-driven 'progress', 2023 also saw the VAR system abolished by incoming FIFA president and career goal-hanger Gary Lineker. No one countenanced ever speaking of VAR again.

Roger… and still not out!

Roger Federer has never added to those 20 grand slam titles he tallied in the '00s and '10s, and agonisingly he saw Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic both nudge one ahead of him on the all-time list in the early 2020s. Where are Rafa and Nole now though? In an incontestable, quite glorious triumph for Team Federer, Roger is rolling on at the age of 48, a knock-in for those Wimbledon and US Open wild cards and still a fixture in Anna Wintour's wildest dreams.

In 2026, Federer partnered his 16-year-old daughter Myla Rose in mixed doubles at the Australian Open. "I've always wanted to keep going until my grandchildren have the chance to see me play, but of course so many people want to write me off," said Roger in a post-match interview.

Federer, hunting that elusive 21st major, has reached the third round of a major only twice since 2022. The year 2022, coincidentally, saw Serena Williams finally match and then pass Margaret Court's women’s tour record of 24 singles slams, immediately quitting tennis and public life at the age of 40 for a surprising second career in taxidermy. Cross the formidable Serena these days and you really can get stuffed.

Run off track

Peeved with persistent pee-test perniciousness, the plug was pulled on Olympic athletics six months out from Los Angeles 2028. To assuage the choking loss of track and field, the sport was substituted on the Memorial Coliseum stadium schedules by daily NFL games, thus guaranteeing stunning television audiences and spectacular financial success, feathering the IOC nest. The rest of the world audience, as per, embraced whatever sport in which their country had concocted a way to become world-beaters since the Tokyo Olympics. America's dominance of the shooting proved a sore point with some observers, given the successful dismantling of the NRA by President Michelle Obama's administration.

Hearn in space

'No context' in 2019, and no gravity by 2028, boxing promoter Eddie Hearn teamed up in a co-promotion with Elon Musk's SpaceX corporation to announce boxing's first showdown on the International Space Station. The Matchroom boss guffawed and called the experience "different gravy" on a recce trip, yet not one astronaut on the ISS laughed back nor posted a three-second clip straight to Twitter. Even from a height of 250 miles, the world instantly felt a better place.

Coming out was the new staying in

A host of sports stars – you'll recognise some of the names, but all in good time - came out as proud members of the LGBTQ+ community over the last decade. The enlightened public majority welcomed the healthy cultural shift that made it possible, and an ignorant minority was soon shouted down. After years of suppressing their true selves in public, this generation of athletes was able to thrive in large parts of the world. There's no punchline here, just the hope we don't screw this one up in the years ahead.

The future's female, are we nearly there yet?

How has the gender gap closed over the course of the 2020s, you wonder? Here's an answer: significantly but not sufficiently.

Sure, there's been a woman reaching the final of the darts world championship, half a dozen female Formula One drivers, Sam Kerr grabbed a handful of A-League goals when guesting for Perth Glory, and we've seen the first prominent football managers crossing over to the men’s game (Emma Hayes spent two years at Fulham, Corinne Diacre had 15 months with Lille, Laura Harvey is bossing the Seattle Sounders and Sarina Wiegman is sporting director of PSV).

The future's better: stadiums are now packed for women's World Cups in football, rugby and cricket.

Squabbling over tennis prize money calmed when grand slams cut matches across the board to best-of-three-set contests, yet achieving outright equality across the sporting spectrum will be one for the 2030s crew to take on.

And finally…

Football 'came home', with England driven to their 2026 World Cup triumph by a combination of Jurgen Klopp's astute management, Harvey Elliott's mastery of the number 10 role, and Real Madrid frontman Dominic Calvert-Lewin's irresistible finishing.

Just one more thing…

Don't believe everything you read. That last memory of the decade? Bigly fake news. To the delight of their many World Cup frenemies, the England football team is still FAILING.

It was a decade dominated by the 'Big Three' and they delivered on multiple occasions on the biggest stages.

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic dominated the decade in men's tennis, winning 33 of the 40 grand slams on offer.

Djokovic claimed 15 of those, while Nadal (13) and Federer (five) built on what they had started in the early-to-mid 2000s.

And, when they matched up in deciders, the trio of greats produced some epic finals.

The women's decade was far more varied despite Serena Williams' dominance – the American winning 12 majors since 2010 – as they too delivered some enthralling deciders.

We take a look at some of the best major finals of the decade.

 

2012 Australian Open: Novak Djokovic bt. Rafael Nadal 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 7-5

In arguably the most gruelling grand slam final ever, Djokovic outlasted Nadal in a five-set thriller in Melbourne.

The all-time greats produced an epic battle that lasted five hours and 53 minutes – the longest slam final in history.

Nadal needed a comeback in the fourth-set tie-break just to stay alive in the decider, famously dropping to his knee in celebration after getting to a fifth.

But the Spaniard would cough up a break lead in the final set as Djokovic claimed an incredible win for his fifth grand slam crown.

2014 Wimbledon: Novak Djokovic bt. Roger Federer 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 7-6 (7-4) 5-7 6-4

A Federer-Djokovic final at the All England Club always delivers.

This one looked set to be a little more straightforward as Djokovic led two-sets-to-one and held a 5-2 advantage in the fourth.

However, Federer reeled off five straight games to force a decider.

Both players had their chances in the fifth set but Djokovic took his to clinch the title.

Federer finished with 75 winners and 29 unforced errors, while Djokovic had 68 and 27 respectively in a match he described as the "best quality grand slam final" he had played in.

 

2017 Australian Open: Roger Federer bt. Rafael Nadal 6-4 3-6 6-1 3-6 6-3

This was quite the occasion as two of the best ever went head to head in a grand slam final for the first time since 2011.

Its importance was also highlighted by the fact Federer held 17 majors to Nadal's 14 heading into the match, and can be understood even more greatly at the end of 2019 now that the pair are on 20 and 19 respectively.

As expected, the pair produced in front of an adoring Melbourne crowd.

After a to-and-fro battle to begin the final, Federer came from 3-1 down in the deciding set, having taken a medical time-out after the fourth.

2017 French Open: Jelena Ostapenko bt. Simona Halep 4-6 6-4 6-3

A stunning run at Roland Garros was completed in fine fashion – with an incredible comeback.

The unseeded Ostapenko may have accepted her run to the final was an achievement enough after the Latvian fell a set and 3-0 down to the tournament favourite.

Ostapenko may have levelled the match, but she then found herself 3-1 behind in the decider.

But, she produced another response, her first WTA Tour title coming at the French Open.

 

2019 Australian Open: Naomi Osaka bt. Petra Kvitova 7-6 (7-2) 5-7 6-4

Ostapenko may have delivered a huge comeback, but Osaka's ability to keep her cool against Kvitova at Melbourne Park earlier this year was even more impressive.

The Japanese star's maiden major win had been overshadowed by Williams' outburst at Flushing Meadows just months earlier and it seemed a potential second major title had been thrown away.

Osaka took the first set and led 5-3 with three championship points in the second, only to somehow drop the set altogether.

That would be enough to break even the greatest, let alone a 21-year-old on one of the sport's grandest stages.

Instead, Osaka composed herself, closing out an amazing victory for her second major title.

2019 Wimbledon: Novak Djokovic bt. Roger Federer 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3)

A history-making decider lasted just under five hours and, once again, Federer was left to rue a missed chance against Djokovic at the All England Club.

Djokovic saved two championship points in the fifth set as the two greats went to a final-set tie-break – the first in singles at Wimbledon. 

The Serbian edged it to win a 16th grand slam title, as not even 94 winners from the Swiss superstar were enough

Federer won 14 more points, hit 40 more winners and created 13 break points to eight, but was beaten.

Novak Djokovic led the way in a decade of dominance in men's tennis but it was a very different story in the women's game, as 20 different players claimed grand slam titles.

Djokovic won all but one of his 16 majors in the previous 10 years, with Rafael Nadal adding 13 to his tally to move just one adrift of Roger Federer's record haul of 20.

Only six men were grand slam champions in the past decade; Federer on five occasions, Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray securing three apiece and Marin Cilic winning the 2014 US Open.

It has been much more difficult to predict which women will land the big prizes in the game, summed up by the fact there were four different winners in 2019.

Ash Barty and Bianca Andreescu claimed maiden major titles, while Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep won their second to prevent Serena Williams from matching Margaret Court's record total of 24.

We look back at how the leading lights have measured up in the 2010s and take a glimpse at what might unfold in the next 10 years.

 

RAFA CLOSING IN, SWEET 16 FOR DJOKOVIC

Nadal won three of the four majors in 2010 and added another two this year, further trimming Federer's advantage.

World number one Nadal only failed to win the French Open twice in the decade, while Djokovic was a six-time Australian Open champion and scooped a quintet of Wimbledon crowns.

Federer has been stuck on 20 grand slam triumphs since going back-to-back in Australia in 2018, with the most recent seven won by either Djokovic or Nadal.

Not since Wawrinka's success at Flushing Meadows in 2016 has a player other than Nadal, Djokovic or Federer won a men's grand slam singles title. 

 

SERENA WINS A DOZEN, BUT SHORT OF COURT

Williams confirmed her status as one of the all-time greats by winning a further 12 major singles titles since the turn of the decade.

The 38-year-old has remained on 23 since defeating her sister, Venus, when she was pregnant in the 2017 Australian Open final.

Williams has lost all four major finals since the birth of her daughter, Alexis Olympia, including the past two against Halep and Andreescu at Wimbledon and in New York respectively.

Angelique Kerber claimed three grand slams in the 2010s, while Kim Clijsters, Maria Sharapova, Li Na, Victoria Azarenka, Petra Kvitova, Halep, Garbine Muguruza and Osaka won two apiece.

 

ONUS ON NEXT GEN MEN TO STEP UP

While there had been concerns over what was to come with so many legends heading towards, or already in, the twilight of their careers, exciting talent has emerged in both the men

While there were concerns over what was to come with so many legends heading towards, or already in, the twilight of their careers, exciting talent has emerged in both the men's and women's game.  

Canadian teenager Andreescu capped a breakthrough season by winning the US Open, while world number one Barty is only 23 and the likes of Halep still have plenty of time on their side.

With Federer aged 38, Nadal 33, Djokovic 32 and Murray - hoping to work his way back up the rankings after recovering from hip surgery - also in his 30s, there will be a changing of the guard in the next decade.

Stefanos Tsitsipas gave another example of his huge potential by winning the ATP Finals title, while Dominic Thiem has been beaten by Nadal in the past two French Open finals.

Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov will also be hoping to come of age in the 2020s.

Rafael Nadal says rising stars Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas can push for grand slam glory as the old guard face up to the "brutal" reality they cannot go on forever.

Nadal admits it is an inevitability his tennis career is coming towards the end of its shelf life, and that the same applies to the likes of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

Between them, Nadal, Federer and Djokovic have amassed a startling 55 grand slam singles titles, with all three going beyond the previous record haul of 14 majors achieved by Pete Sampras that many expected would stand for decades.

Federer is 38, Nadal turns 34 next June and Djokovic will be 33 in May. It is no small wonder all three remain serious contenders for every grand slam, having already dominated men's tennis for over a decade.

There would be genuine surprise if the Australian Open men's singles final on February 2 does not feature at least one of the trio, given that aside from Stan Wawrinka's 2015 triumph they have shut out the opposition in Melbourne since 2006.

Yet Tsitsipas won the ATP Finals in November for the biggest win of the 21-year-old Greek's career, while Medvedev had a stellar 2019, particularly on hard courts over the summer, with Nadal having to dig deep to deny the Russian in a remarkable US Open final.

Asked about the 'NextGen' players, Nadal told AS: "It's normal that there's a buzz around them and it will get louder because we're getting older every day and they're getting better every day.

"Every year they're improving. I think that they can win the biggest tournaments, like Medvedev, Tsitsipas and [Dominic] Thiem did this year.

"I think that [Denis] Shapovalov is going to make a big step up this year and [Jannik] Sinner's trajectory is incredible.

"They're here to stay. We're still around but the cycle of life is brutal and at some point that's going to change, and sooner rather than later."

Nadal is surprised he remains at the top of the game, having ended the year as world number one for the fifth time.

He bought into talk early in his career that his hard-grafting playing style would not be conducive to a long stint in the game.

"To be honest, at this stage of my life I didn’t think I’d still be playing tennis," Nadal said.

"I was told because of my style I wouldn’t have a very long career. I believed what I was told, so I thought that by now I’d be retired and starting a family."

Rafael Nadal says it is impossible to compare his tennis rivalry with Roger Federer to the clash of the football titans between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

The similarity has often been suggested, based on the rationale that Federer and Messi are aesthetically extraordinary while Nadal and Ronaldo are machine-like in their winning nature and physically immense.

Ronaldo's Juventus club-mate, goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, floated the theory in October, saying the "comparison is obvious and makes me smile".

The football rivalry was never greater when Ronaldo was at Real Madrid, as it put him and his club in direct opposition to Messi at Barcelona.

Messi recently went past Ronaldo's haul of Ballon d'Or triumphs when he took his sixth award, crowning him as the world's top player for this year.

But Nadal, whose French Open and US triumphs in 2019 took him to 19 grand slam titles, one behind all-time leader Federer, scotched the idea that players in one sport can be likened to those from another.

He told Marca.com: "No comparison is possible. They are two completely different sports and Messi's characteristics are not those of Federer nor are those of Cristiano like mine. Each one is as he is."

Nadal could pass 38-year-old Federer in 2020, and Novak Djokovic is also in the race to finish with the most slams, sitting on 16 to date.

But Nadal says the grand slam record would be a by-product of his dedication rather than the result of chasing it down as a main objective.

"It's not important to me, if only I'm given this title," Nadal said. "I understand for you, the media, the journalists, you have to write about this.

"For me, it's already satisfying to form part of the history of our sport.

"I've been training and making an effort since I was eight. Being where I am at 33 is already an incredible achievement.

"We're in numbers that were unimaginable. People can already think who is the best and who isn't. For me, it's a great honour to be in this group."

Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray were among the big winners as the recipients of the 2019 ATP Awards were announced on Thursday.

World number one Nadal was already certain to be the Player of the Year, having ended the season on top of the rankings.

But he also collected the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award, voted for by his fellow players, for the second straight year.

Nadal won the French Open and US Open, beating Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev respectively, to take his career tally to 19 majors.

There were no surprises as Murray was named the Comeback Player of the Year less than 12 months after he announced plans for retirement.

Murray was set to quit before undergoing hip resurfacing surgery, after which he starred on the doubles circuit, winning the Queen's Club Championships alongside Feliciano Lopez before playing with Serena Williams at Wimbledon.

The Briton then won the European Open in October, his first singles crown on the ATP Tour in 31 months.

Meanwhile, Jannik Sinner, the 18-year-old who ended the 2018 season ranked 763rd, was the Newcomer of the Year after his Next Gen ATP Finals success.

Fellow Italian Matteo Berrettini, who reached the US Open semi-finals and is now the world number eight, claimed the Most Improved Player of the Year honours.

Medvedev's stunning second half of the season did not go unnoticed, with coach Gilles Cervara the ATP Coach of the Year. The Russian played nine finals, winning four, in 2019.

Yet popular stars Roger Federer and Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan were not forgotten, collecting the Fans' Favourite awards.

Roger Federer joked he may never retire from tennis as he continues to focus on extending his career for as long as possible.

World number three Federer turned 38 in August and has just rounded off a hugely successful tour with Alexander Zverev.

The 20-time grand slam winner won four titles this season, while he missed out on glory at Wimbledon after losing in an epic final against Novak Djokovic.

Federer has recently invested in Swiss-based shoe company On Running, but he insists his business venture is not a sign he is set to stop playing the sport he loves. 

"I've been asked all week about how retirement is going to be and when it is going to come, I think they all needed to know," Federer said during his appearance on the Today Show.

"But no, this is not about retirement. On [the company] doesn't want me to retire, they want me to play as long as possible and that is my goal. I will never retire!"

Federer did acknowledge, however, that he is looking forward to the freedom his eventual retirement will bring, considering the impact tennis has on the rest of his life.

"I like my sweets, desserts, time off," he said. "I start my planning for the year around where I'm going to go on vacation with my family, and that's where I'll be in a couple of days, on the beach, so I can't wait.

"Actually, when I had my knee issues in 2016 and I was rehabbing for almost eight months, I felt like that could be my life after [retirement].

"Of course I was never as busy but it was just nice to be able to have schedules with friends – lunch on Wednesdays, dinners on Fridays, let's have a good time on the weekends together with another family. I’m really looking forward to that."

Federer's tour included matches against Zverev in Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Ecuador. The pair were due to play in Colombia too, but a curfew in Bogota meant the exhibition was called off.

"It was absolutely crazy," Federer said of the tour. "We played in four cities, almost in front of 100,000 people and Mexico City, had 42,000 people, double of Arthur Ashe Stadium here in New York.

"Breaking those records, doing it with Zverev, it's not something I ever thought I would do."

Roger Federer and Alexander Zverev shattered the world record for attendance at a tennis match.

A crowd of 42,217 watched an exhibition match between Federer and Zverev at Plaza de Toros Mexico – the world's largest bullring – in Mexico City on Saturday.

Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters had previously set the record in their exhibition contest in 2010, which attracted 35,681 fans in Brussels.

But that figure was topped as 20-time grand slam champion Federer defeated Zverev 3-6 6-4 6-2 in the "The Greatest Match".

Afterwards, Federer tweeted: "I will never forget this magical evening in Mexico City with @AlexZverev 42,517 people came, We broke this record together! Viva Mexico."

Roger Federer insisted it was still "easy to get motivated" despite being in the later stages of his career.

The Swiss great has won a record 20 grand slam titles, with the last of those coming at the 2018 Australian Open.

But Federer – who is set to play Alexander Zverev in exhibition matches in North and South America – said he was still motivated, with the 38-year-old still hungry to play in front of big crowds.

"When we come back to tennis, how do I stay motivated? It's actually quite simple," he told a news conference on Monday.

"When you walk out to a stadium with 15,000 [or] 20,000 people, it's easy to get motivated. It would be much harder for me to play on court 16 and there be like 15 people there after everything that I've gone through. That would be hard. I tell you this, I wouldn't last super long out on court 16.

"But playing in front of a huge crowd you get the adrenaline going, you get excited.

"Playing against future champions [Zverev], number one in the world whenever it may be, playing for another title, it's a great feeling and I enjoy that a lot."

Playing in the final years of his career, Federer is often asked about his retirement plans.

Discussing how he planned to announce his retirement, Federer said he saw no reason to stop playing just yet.

"If you look back at how a lot of the players have retired there is no rules to it. You go by feel. I actually don't know if I'm going to announce it early, late, all of a sudden," he said.

"I think it all depends on my health, my family, on my results also a little bit obviously. I don't know the answer to be honest.

"I'm feeling good right now and I'm really enjoying my life on the road and enjoy playing against 'Sascha' [Zverev] and the other players on the Tour.

"I see no reason to stop, but of course with age everything gets a bit more difficult, but at the same time with experience also you can savour the moments more.

"I don't know how it's going to end. I hope it's just going to be somewhat emotional I guess and nice. I don't know. I just hope it's going to be good the whole process and not too difficult."

Rafael Nadal would already be established as the greatest men's tennis player in history if injuries had not disrupted his career, according to uncle and former coach Toni Nadal.

The Spaniard has 19 grand slam titles and is one short of matching Roger Federer's record haul, with the Swiss in his sights heading into the 2020 season.

Nadal's princely haul includes an unprecedented 12 French Open crowns, as well as four successes at the US Open, including his 2019 triumph when he toppled Daniil Medvedev in a breathtaking final.

Knee problems in particular, but also a host of further physical issues, have blighted 33-year-old Nadal during his career, and since making his grand slam debut in 2003 he has missed eight majors.

Federer, in stark contrast, has only been forced to miss two by injury - the French Open and US Open in 2016 - although he also elected to skip Roland Garros in 2017 and 2018 in favour of a rest.

And Novak Djokovic, the third member of the men's 'Big Three' with 16 slams, has been absent for just the 2017 US Open since his big-stage debut at the 2005 Australian Open.

"For the moment, the best in history I do not know if is Federer, Rod Laver… it is very difficult to determine who is the best in history," Toni Nadal told Omnisport.

"I do not like excuses and I do not want to make them. If my grandmother had two wheels, it would be a bicycle…

"I believe that if Rafael wouldn't have had so many injuries, probably today he would be the best tennis player in history. He had the injuries and there is nothing more to say.

"Anyway, let's wait until the end, when everybody has finished their careers, we will say who is the best one, but it is always difficult to determine who is the best.

"I do not know which aspects of the games of statistics you take into account, if it is one or another. It won't be much difference, I believe, when Federer, Djokovic and Nadal finish their careers… and Rod Laver, it won't be much difference."

Toni Nadal saluted his nephew for another scintillating season, in which he landed slams in Paris and New York and finished the year as world number one.

It hardly mattered that he fell short at the ATP Finals, edged out in the group stage.

"Back in 2005, it was unthinkable that he would be number one of the world again in 2019," said Toni Nadal.

"I think that Rafael has made efforts all his life to keep being on the top and at the end he has had this reward.

"When things don't go well he has this capacity to continue. But after that, I think that he has a capacity to generate great shots in bad postures, if we talk about technical aspects. On this matter I believe that he is the best in the world. He is a guy that on a position of instability, he can make even better shots."

Asked to similarly pick out the main virtues of Federer and Djokovic, the man popularly known as 'Uncle Toni' added: "Federer: his elegance above all. But elegance based on effectivity, not only elegance and little effectivity. Elegance and great effectivity.

"And from Djokovic, his extraordinary capacity of attack and defence and his mobility: it is easy from him to be in the right place, he is a very complete player. I believe that the three of them have similar capacities."

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