Milos Raonic has tipped Novak Djokovic to emulate Roger Federer’s success at the 2017 Australian Open and challenge for the title next month.
The 12-time Grand Slam champion called time on his year after Wimbledon in order to recover from a long-term elbow problem, in a move that mirrored Federer’s own actions in 2016.
Federer ended his season early to undergo knee surgery – spending six months away from the sport – but roared back to action at the start of this year, beating Rafael Nadal in the final at Melbourne Park.
Most Australian Open titles (ATP)
6 – Djokovic
6 – Emerson
5 – Federer
4 – Agassi
4 – Crawford
4 – Rosewall
Novak Djokovic is the most decorated player in Australian Open history, with six titles to his name, although he crashed out in the second round in his most recent attempt.
However, former Wimbledon finalist Raonic believes Djokovic is more than capable of stepping up upon his return and pulling off a stunning start to the season.
‘Novak’s played well here; he’s had a lot of time to train and recover,’ the Canadian told the Australian Open’s official site.
‘He could do the thing that Roger was able to do [this year]. Roger’s been playing great. It’s hard to know, it’s really hard to know.
‘If you look at it from how things ended last year it’s Roger and Rafa, but it’s hard to discount guys when they’ve had time to train – I think Roger proved a lot of people wrong in that sense.’
Raonic has not played since withdrawing from an ATP event in Tokyo in October and his recovery appeared to have been handed a setback as he withdrew from an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi.
But the former world No. 3 insists he’s fighting fit and just needed more time to train as he prepares for a big season after an injury-hit 2017.
‘I’m 100% healthy but only 80% through my off-season,’ he added. ‘I would have liked to have a bit more training in the off-season but my injuries kept me delayed.
‘I feel better than last year because I’ve had more time to prepare. Last year the season finished late for me so time was limited and everything ended up being a rush. Now I’ve had time to take off and recover.
It [the Australian Open] has been my most consistent Slam and the one I felt like I’ve had the best opportunities. I’ve been unfortunate the last two years finishing with an injury but I’ve always felt good about the way I’ve played.’
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