Why The Australian Open Might Be Better Off Without Federer, Djokovic And Nadal

The 'Big Three' may all miss the first Grand Slam of 2022
15:00, 29 Dec 2021

Aussie tennis star Nick Kyrgios has said that no ‘Big Three’ of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal would be a “disaster” for the upcoming Australian Open, but there are clear positives if the trio doesn't turn up. With the absence of three of the greatest players of all time for the first Grand Slam of 2022, a rare and great opportunity awaits one of the players taking part to lay their hands on the title.

Only one player apart from the ‘Big Three’ has won the Australian Open since 2005, and that was Stan Wawrinka in 2014, who defeated Nadal in the final. The tournament has mostly been dominated by the three legends over the last 16 years, with Djokovic winning the last three editions, and players like Kyrgios should be excited at the thought of the 2022 edition being a wide-open contest.

Federer has already ruled himself out due to the Swiss star recovering from knee surgery while Nadal tested positive for Covid-19 last week and said he cannot guarantee his participation. As for Djokovic, uncertainty constantly surrounds his vaccination status which could prevent him taking part if he isn’t jabbed, unless he meets the criteria for a medical exemption.

Aussie Kyrgios feels that the sport needs the three greats to play. He told The Age: “I honestly don’t know Novak’s current situation with anything Covid related or what he needs to play.

“I hope he’s had a good Christmas and I hope he’s able to play in the sport for as long as possible, because I’ve voiced before I think Federer, Nadal and Djokovic need to be [playing].

“If all three aren’t there, it’s a disaster. It’s an absolute disaster for the fans and the people that enjoy tennis.

“Yes, it’s obviously a good opportunity for some of the younger guys to come through and make an impact but as a whole, we do need them to be part of the sport.”

The Australian isn’t wrong in that the iconic trio are a huge part of tennis, but it should not be treated like the end of the world. An open contest will still deliver thrilling matches and arguably a more entertaining tournament as a whole, even if the tennis isn’t quite up to the standard of world number one, Djokovic. 

There will be plenty of hungry players in Melbourne looking to capitalise on this unusual anomaly. It would be a long shot, but Britain’s Andy Murray could make the most of his wildcard entry and can build on his recent victory over fellow Brit Dan Evans at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi. Following his numerous setbacks due to injury and hip surgeries, the three-time Grand Slam champion deserves a strong end to his illustrious career, and it would be quite poetic if he could pull off an incredible story in Melbourne to kick-start 2022.

Regardless of the ‘Big Three’ being there or not, there are going to be very talented players competing who would provide just as a difficult challenge for Murray and have aspirations of winning a Grand Slam title. The reigning US Open champion, Russian Daniil Medvedev will be eager to seal a second consecutive Grand Slam after triumphing over Djokovic in Flushing Meadows, New York back in September. And after reaching the final in Melbourne last year, he stands a great chance of going all the way this time around and would be the player to beat with Djokovic absent. Other major players hoping to emerge victorious will be Alexander Zverev, who will want to reach his first Australian Open final, while Stefano Tsitsipas has reached the semi-finals on two occasions in the past.

But the most exciting thought about this year’s Australian Open is that, like Kyrgios said, there will be a platform for the younger players to step up and make an impact. It may not have the big names, but this tournament could be a memorable one, with Medvedev, Zverev and Tsitsipas all vying to get 2022 off to a flying start.

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