Djokovic to be dethroned? Rybakina to rise? Flashscore's 2024 Australian Open predictions


Djokovic to be dethroned? Rybakina to rise? Flashscore's 2024 Australian Open predictions

Alcaraz is aiming to dethrone Djokovic
Alcaraz is aiming to dethrone DjokovicAFP
The first Grand Slam of the new tennis season is here, and just like anyone unfortunate enough to face Novak Djokovic down under, Flashscore's Finley Crebolder and Tolga Akdeniz have bravely put themselves at risk of humiliation by predicting how things will pan out down under at the Australian Open.

Which will be the best match of the first round?

Finley Crebolder: I'm spoilt for choice here with the draw throwing up a whole host of heavyweight clashes, but I'll go with the one between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Matteo Berrettini

They're two of the best hard-court players around on their day, shown by the fact that Tsitsipas reached the final in Melbourne last year and Berrettini reached the semis the year before, and have played out thrillers down under at both the Australian Open and United Cup in the past. 

There's a good chance that I'll be made to look a fool given Berrettini hasn't played since withdrawing from the US Open with an injury in August and could well be brushed aside, but I'll hedge my bets on the Italian being in good enough shape to make it a contest. 

Tolga Akdeniz: I like the look of Naomi Osaka vs Caroline Garcia, purely because of how wildly unpredictable this clash is.

With Osaka at her best - I wouldn't even think twice about the result. But the two-time Australian Open champion is coming off the back of a 15-month layoff, so chances at, we don't get an Osaka at her best.

Garcia climbed back into the spotlight towards the end of 2022, but her performances tend to be really up or down. You never know which Garcia will turn up.

These two factors combined, make this opening round match-up a really intriguing one.

Who will be the biggest underperformer?

Jabeur training in Melbourne
Jabeur training in MelbourneAFP

Finley Crebolder: Ons Jabeur is the sixth seed in Melbourne, but she's only reached the quarter-finals there once in the past and I can see her falling short of that mark this year. 

Specifically, I could see her going out as early as the second round where she may well face 16-year-old sensation Mirra Andreeva, who has just reached the first quarter-final of her career in Brisbane after picking up a massively impressive win over world number 14 Liudmila Samsonova

Plenty of other players in Jabeur's section pose a threat to her too even if she avoids or gets past the Russian, so I'm going to go ahead and predict that she'll be out before the quarters. 

Tolga Akdeniz: I can see Stefanos Tsitsipas crashing out in the first round to Matteo Berrettini. A battle of two players with flawed backhands, it would come as no surprise to me if Berrettini takes him down.

Tsitsipas has frankly not progressed the way many anticipated he would over the last year or two, and his form of late isn't good. I know Berrettini lacks match sharpness, but if he's anywhere near his best, I'm confident he will win this match.

Even if he wins his first-round match, he could also come up against Lorenzo Musetti and Taylor Fritz before the quarter-final stage, and I just don't trust Tsitsipas to come out unscathed.

Who will be the biggest surprise package?

Finley Crebolder: Grigor Dimitrov reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open back in 2017, and I reckon he's got a real chance of finally returning to the final four this year. 

2023 was his best season in a long time and he picked up where he left off in 2024, winning his first title since the end of 2017 in Brisbane thanks to a stunning performance against Holger Rune in the final, which he won in straight sets. Some of his shotmaking was simply sublime, and he's looking better physically than ever.

The 13th seed has been handed a fairly straightforward path to the last 16 in Melbourne, where he'll most likely face Daniil Medvedev, and I think him beating the Russian and then Rune to reach the semis is a possibility.

Tolga Akdeniz: I'm going to name two players because I want to mention both. On the men's side: Ugo Humbert. The talented yet inconsistent Frenchman actually ended 2023 quite well, and he's been given quite a nice draw.

I can see him reaching the third round, and then even beating Hubert Hurkacz if he's fully locked in. Holger Rune in the fourth round is tough, but not impossible. Getting past the quarter-final stage might be a step too far with Danill Medvedev and Grigor Dimitrov lurking, but that would be a good performance nonetheless.

On the women's side, I see Qinwen Zheng reaching the quarters too. One of my favourite young players on tour, her run to the fourth round should be doable. A clash with Emma Raducanu in the third round could be really tasty though.

Jessica Pegula afterwards poses her toughest test, but Zheng's performances at the end of last season were so, so good, and she's that talented, I see no reason why she can't see the American off. Elena Rybakina could end her run in the last eight, but like Humbert, that's a good run.

Who will reach the women's final and who will be champion?

Finley Crebolder: I don't think it's a one-horse race by any means, but I'm going to be boring and say that top seed Iga Swiatek will become an Australian Open champion for the first time. 

The 22-year-old has been unstoppable in the last few months, winning each of her last 17 competitive singles matches (the World Tennis League is technically an exhibition event) to claim the WTA Finals title and lead Poland to the final of the United Cup. 

She'll no doubt face some tough tests along the way, but I think she'll pull through to move one Wimbledon title away from the career Grand Slam. 

Tolga Akdeniz: I'm fully backing Elena Rybakina. Her win in Brisbane was so impressive, smashing Aryna Sabalenka in the final. Sure, she lost to Ekaterina Alexandrova in the quarter-finals in Adelaide, but that could be a blessing in disguise. She suffered some fitness issues in the second half of 2023, so getting some time off before the start of the Australian Open will be important for her.

Her simplistic, yet incredibly effective style is so destructive. The cleanest and biggest hitter on tour, it'll be hard for anyone to stop her if she's at her best. She was edged out in last year's final by Sabalenka, but I'm betting on her going one step further, and beating her Belarusian rival this time around.

Who will reach the men's final and who will be champion?

Finley Crebolder: Right then, this is where I destroy my reputation, because I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Novak Djokovic will lose a match at the Australian Open.

The last time that happened was in 2018, when the Serb was a long way from his best and went out in the fourth round, but I think it could well finally happen again. I expect him to reach the final, but am going to predict that battling his way through a tricky route - he could face Ben Shelton, Tsitsipas and Jannik Sinner back to back to back - will take too much out of him for the 36-year-old to win a final against Carlos Alcaraz 

Djokovic losing at the tournament he's been so dominant at is hard to envision, but so too was him losing to Alcaraz at Wimbledon, and that happened. Given the world number one has a tougher path here, has some slight wrist issues and the Spaniard is better on hard courts than he is on grass, it can happen again, right? Right?...

I'm doubting myself on this one, but hey, you miss 100 per cent of the shots you don't take...

Tolga Akdeniz: Novak Djokovic. I am not as bold (or as daft) as Finley. 

His draw is a little trickier than usual in Melbourne, but when Djokovic is playing in Australia, he's virtually unbeatable. I do think it'll be much tougher for him this year though, and he will be seriously tested at some point. But at Grand Slams, Djokovic has this scary ability to dig really deep and go to dark places to find a freakish level of tennis that no one can handle.

I can't look past the 10-time Australian Open champion. And a final with Carlos Alcaraz is on the cards.


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