Has a world number one ever been a lesser favourite to win a major than Rafa in Melbourne?

Winner of two of the last three majors have propelled Rafael Nadal to world number one status.

I think it is fair to say since winning New York it hasn’t been world number one level and this was on show at the ATP Cup. The word ‘tiredness’ got passed around but I just felt this was an excuse.

Following the defeat against Djokovic in ATP Cup I felt like this was a concern over his level but not due to tiredness. I said throughout the event that I felt he huffed and puffed his way through the event in terms of performance level.

There wasn’t really a blow away performance instead I felt like life was made difficult for him.

Why do I think he won’t win here?

There are better prepared and better inform players right now.

I look at his potential path to winning the title:

R1 – Dellien
R2 – Delbonis / Sousa
R3 – Carreno Busta
R4 – Khachanov / Kyrgios
QF – Thiem
SF – Medvedev / Zverev
F – Djokovic / Federer

I don’t see a big problem early. Sousa is probably the one in the first 5/6 days who could. If he gets Karen Khachanov I don’t see the Russian causing any issues at the moment in all honesty.

Kyrgios, Thiem, Medvedev and one of the top two to win the title is a tough one. Right now I can’t see him beating Thiem at the moment.

If this were over three sets then I think we would be talking about another story.

The big stat going around at the moment is the fact that Novak has won their last 9 meetings and 19 sets on a hard court.

However it does go deeper than that…

Roger has won their last six meetings on hard since the beginning of 2015. He has however won all his previous matches against Medvedev, Thiem and Tsitsipas on hard courts (6 all together).

We saw him pretty much bulldoze through opponents around twelve months ago in the final. By the time I landed in Perth from Melbourne it was over.

He put everything and maybe too much into his early performances that he ran out of ideas and steam.

Will a slowed down approach work for him this year? I don’t think he can afford to play at the level he showed in Sydney, it has to be better.

I don’t know when there was last a time where a world number one just didn’t even seem a favourite for the first major of the year having won the last one of 2019…

Screenshot 2020-01-17 at 21.24.44

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