The 1st Grand Slam of 2020 has begun at Melbourne Park. The Australian Open promises to be a highly competitive slam with many dark horses who can upset the favorites on any given day and take the trophy home. In this article we take a look at 7 such dark horses who are expected to raise a few eyebrows this January and February in Australia.
7. Andrey Rublev
The 22 year old Russian with a hard hitting game is one of the players expected to make a big impact in the coming years. Rublev defeated top players like Federer and Tsitsipas in 2019 and also helped Russia to reach the Davis Cup semis.
The World Number 18 seems to be in top form from the start of season 2020. He has already won 2 back to back titles, one at the Qatar Open and the other at the Adelaide Open. Rublev is one of the players to watch out for this fortnight in Melbourne as he aims break into the top 10 of ATP rankings.
6. Nick Kyrgios
The talented but volatile Australian has the potential to outclass any opponent on his day. He has shown that by beating each of the Big 3. Kyrgios is looking in good touch having won 2 ATP 500 titles in 2019. He also looked good during most of his ATP Cup 2020 matches.
Currently ranked at World Number 26, Kyrgios comes into the Australian Open as one of the local favorites and with a lot of motivation. He can cause some major upsets in the tournament. His expected 4th round clash with Rafael Nadal is one of the highly awaited matches in the tournament.
5. Alexander Zverev
In 2017 and 2018, Sascha Zverev was among the top 3 players in the World. He was winning important events including Masters 1000 tournaments and even looked marching towards World Number 1 rankings. However in 2019 the German suffered with form.
He still continues to be a top 10 player but would certainly want to reverse the tide of 2019 in 2020. The World Number 7 lost in the 4th round of 2019 Australian Open. In 2020 he would be determined to go deep in the tournament. He is one of the dark horses with a potential to cause many upsets in next 2 weeks.
4. Marin Cilic
The Croat is already a Grand Slam winner in the US Open 2014. Cilic also reached the Australian Open final in 2018. However in 2019, a combination of injuries and loss of form meant that the Croatian star was out of the top 20 ATP rankings.
Cilic showed signs of return to form in the last months of 2019. However he will have his real test in the next 2 weeks. Cilic certainly has the game to displace any opponent, the question is does he have the heart and the belief to do so. That will be put to test as the Australian Open 2020 enters into its decisive stages.
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3. Grigor Dimitrov
Another extremely talented player, who showed the signs of slowing down in 2018 and 2019 after great success in the year 2017. Grigor won the 2017 Nitto ATP finale and reached the career high ranking of World Number 3. In 2019 US Open he showed signs of plunging back to form by reaching the semis and defeating Roger Federer along the way.
Dimitrov is currently ranked at World Number 20 and will be eager to return back to the top 10. A deep run in Melbourne Park will help his cause. He is going to be a highly watched out player in the tournament.
2. Stan Wawrinka
Every tennis player is aware of the danger the Stan Wawrinka brings to the opponent when in full flow. The 3 time Grand Slam winner who has been the 2014 Australian Open champion also suffered in the last 2 years due to frequent injuries. However, the ‘Stanimal’ is far from finished. He beat Novak Djokovic in the US Open 2019 4th round.
Currently ranked at World Number 15, Wawrinka is a player no one would like to face in the early stages of Australian Open. His powerful ground-strokes and particularly that ever reliant backhand has the potential to disrupt the opponent’s rhythm Stan will be hoping to go deep in the 2020 Australian Open and thus bounce back into the top 10 of the ATP rankings.
1. Dominic Thiem
The current World Number 5 and twice Roland Garros finalist, Dominic Thiem has improved his hard court game by a mile. In 2019, he won the Indian Wells Masters 1000 event and reached the finals of the season ending Nitto ATP finale.
Thiem looked a bit out of touch in the ATP Cup. However the Austrian is known for his grit as well as the game. His potential quarter-final clash against familiar foe Rafa Nadal is one of the matches to watch out for in 2020 Australian Open. Thiem has had great Grand Slam success on the Clay of Roland Garros in last 2 years. Can he repeat that on the hard courts of Australia remains to be seen?