Lleyton Hewitt believes Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are more than capable of snatching Roger Federer’s Australian Open crown upon their comebacks to the ATP Tour, although he’s not sure how ‘dominant’ they will prove to be moving forward.
The duo have not featured in a professional contest since exiting at the quarter-final stage at Wimbledon, with a hip problem keeping Murray sidelined and Djokovic struggling with an elbow issue.
With both men lacking form and fitness in 2017, Federer and Rafael Nadal cleaned up at Grand Slam level – sharing the four majors between them.
Most Australian Open titles
6 – Djokovic
6 – Emerson
5 – Federer
4 – Crawford
4 – Agassi
4 – Rosewall
Djokovic and Murray headed into this year as Australian Open favourites, with six-time winner Djokovic the most decorated champion down under in the Open Era and Murray a runner-up, but it was Federer and Nadal who clashed in the first major final of the season and the Swiss came out on top in a five-set classic.
Federer can match Djokovic’s hauls of six Australian Open titles if he wins the 2018 edition in Melbourne but Hewitt expects both Murray and Djokovic – who have faced one another in four separate finals in Australia – to launch a serious assault on the title.
‘I don’t know if they’ll be as dominant as they were,’ the two-time Grand Slam champion told Sky Sports. ‘For them just to pick it up where they left off a couple of years ago, it’s not that easy. But I would never write those guys off.
‘Both those guys, Djokovic and Murray, have played so well in Australia. They play so well in the hot conditions but also the night matches on Rod Laver Arena.
‘If they can get through that first week and give themselves a chance then they’re going to be tough to beat.
‘But it’s an interesting one. You’ve got [Stan] Wawrinka, [Milos] Raonic, [Kei] Nishikori – a lot of top guys coming off an extended break from injuries or surgeries at the end of the year.’
When asked whether he thought Federer and Nadal could keep dominating the ATP Tour, Hewitt added: ‘You wouldn’t think so but those two, I don’t know if they’re normal.
Especially Roger. At his age, and especially how he started the year. He’s wound back the clock and even his results against Rafa.
‘It’s the best he’s ever done against Rafa, so I wouldn’t say there’s anything those two can’t do.’
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