Djokovic primed to reclaim Melbourne throne

Fri Jan 16, 2015 7:09am EST
 
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Last year's Australian Open kicked off the biggest shakeup in men's tennis for a decade but Novak Djokovic is primed to stave off the charge of 'Generation Next' and take back his throne at Melbourne Park.

Stan Wawrinka holds the title and a band of young upstarts are determined to topple the 'Big Four', but Djokovic has the fitness and the momentum to reassert himself on the blue courts by the banks of the Yarra River, where he claimed three successive titles from 2011-13 and his first in 2008.

Though upended a year ago by Wawrinka in a cataclysmic quarter-final, a match seen as the beginning of the end for the old guard, Djokovic finished the year with victory at the World Tour Finals, the top ranking and the respect of his greatest rivals.

"The only guy who was really consistent was Novak," Roger Federer said at the Brisbane International last week.

"He was still there when it mattered the most."

Adding to Djokovic's chances are a kind draw and fitness doubts over his biggest threats.

With Federer, Andy Murray and Rafa Nadal bunched on the other side of the draw, only one could meet the Wimbledon champion in the final.

  Continued...

 
Serbia's Novak Djokovic hits a shot during a practice session at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne Park January 16, 2015.  REUTERS/David Gray