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Monfils, Berrettini, Zverev and Nadal among those would could benefit with Djokovic out of the Australian Open

Olympic gold-medal champion Alexander Zverev is playing for his maiden major title. EPA-EFE/DAVE HUNT

By Ricky Dimon

Novak Djokovic was a massive favorite at the 2020 U.S. Open. When he got defaulted during his fourth-round match against Pablo Carreno Busta, it blew the tournament wide open. The title became completely up for grabs.

Djokovic wasn’t as big of a favorite heading into this Australian Open, but he obviously had to like his chances as a nine-time champion in Melbourne and the current world No. 1. His absence most definitely changes the whole complexion of the tournament. 

Here is a breakdown of the players who stand to benefit the most from Djokovic’s ouster.

Gael Monfils – Monfils is 0-17 all time against Djokovic. No, that is not a misprint; 0-17. In all likelihood it would have been 0-18 in a matter of days if the top seed had stayed in the tournament, because they were on course to meet in the fourth round. Suddenly the Frenchman’s draw is clear.

Gael Monfils of France in action against Federico Coria of Argentina during their first round match at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 17 January 2022. EPA-EFE/JASON O’BRIEN

Matteo Berrettini – Nobody should benefit more from Djokovic’s ouster than Berrettini. The Italian would have faced Djokovic in the quarterfinals. At Grand Slams last year he went 0-3 against Djokovic and an unbelievable 16-0 against everyone else. Needless to say, Berrettini’s chances Down Under have suddenly improved dramatically.

Carlos Alcaraz – That’s not to say Berrettini’s draw has become easy. No way. He could run into Alcaraz in the fourth round and the winner of that would have a great chance of reaching the semis. Alcaraz is on fire; he made the QFs of the U.S. Open last summer and ended the year with a title at the NextGen ATP Finals.

Coming off his US Open breakthrough, Carlos Alcaraz is on fire down under. EPA-EFE/JASON O’BRIEN

Rafael Nadal – Nadal just lost to Djokovic at the French Open; there is no reason to think he would now beat his arch rival at the Australian Open. The last time they faced each other in Melbourne resulted in a 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 destruction for Djokovic en route to the 2019 winner’s trophy. With Djokovic gone, Nadal has a realistic chance to win slam No. 21.

Alexander Zverev – Zverev is 0-3 against Djokovic at Grand Slams. The world No. 1 was the only player to beat Zverev at the two hard-court majors last year. With Djokovic out and the German playing the best tennis of his career, the door to Zverev’s first Grand Slam triumph is open.

Daniil Medvedev – Obviously Djokovic’s exit won’t become a factor for Medvedev unless the Russian reaches the final since they were on opposite sides of the draw. But Medvedev will probably make it there. He made it there last year only to get blown out by Djokovic in the final. If Medvedev makes it again, it won’t be Djokovic on the other side of the net.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.