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Australian Open: Roger Federer knows he should not be a favorite at 38

The Big Three of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have a week of preparation ahead with no more matches to play before the Australian Open.

This time next week, the 2020 Australian Open will be under way with Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer all attempting to add to their Grand Slam totals.

After an exciting victory for Djokovic and Serbia over Nadal’s Spain team in the ATP Cup final, the Big Three do not have any more tournament play before the start of the first major of the new decade in Melbourne.

Djokovic opted not to play the Adelaide International after his deep run in the team competition, while Alex de Minaur also had to withdraw from that event due to an abdominal injury, a concerning development for his Australian fans.

Federer has not played at all since the ATP Finals, aside from a series of exhibitions against Alexander Zverev.

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All members of the Big Three have been talking about the upcoming tournament, where Novak Djokovic goes in as favorite, closely followed by his longtime rivals.

Federer is happy to remain competitive but knows he can no longer expect to come into Grand Slams as one of the most likely winners at the age of 38.

The Swiss star is surprised it is not a younger player on top of the game by now instead of him, Djokovic and Nadal.

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In quotes carried by Sky Sports, Roger Federer also praised Djokovic and Nadal for the show they put on at the ATP Cup and said he was as motivated as ever to continue playing.

“I’m aware that at 38 I shouldn’t be the favorite, it should be someone probably in their 20s.

“But the three of us have been able to stay as the favorites which is great for us. Both guys [Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal] are already showing great signs. I was watching a little bit of their ATP Cup match and thought that was great. Both guys, injury free, are always tough to beat.

“I’ve trained long and hard in the offseason and I didn’t have any setbacks, which is crucial.

“Last week I was asking myself, ‘Am I happy to go to Australia?’ I could easily just stay home and I was like, ‘No, no, I’m really happy to go to Melbourne and kick off the season there’. I have kept myself in good shape.”

Nadal also appeared to concede Djokovic was favorite after the ATP Cup final, labelling the world number two as “the best in the world on a hard court in the last couple of years” (h/t Express).

Despite being US Open champion, it is a status he cannot claim for himself having lost nine consecutive matches to the Serbian in straight sets on the surface.

However, Nadal remains hopeful he can be competitive against Djokovic on hard courts in the near future after the adjustments he made in the second set of their ATP Cup match.

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Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, claimed there was no clear favorite for the first Slam of the year.

Despite being a record seven-time winner, he talked up the threat posed by Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer as well as challengers Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas (h/t Yahoo Sports).

“I think it’s really open. I don’t think there are really clear favorites,” said Novak Djokovic.

“You have obviously Federer, Nadal, myself because of the experience and everything and the rankings that we get to be probably named the top three favorites.

“But then you have Medvedev, Tsitsipas, Thiem who are really showing some amazing tennis. They showed that they matured on the big stage, that they can challenge the best players in the world and win against them.”

The defending Australian Open champion has regularly discussed how close the chasing pack are getting, but added that he hopes the Big Three can hold on at the top for at least one more year.

It came as Medvedev, who took a set off Djokovic in their ATP Cup semifinal and pushed Nadal all the way in last year’s US Open final, moved up to fourth in the world rankings, rising above Thiem.

Medvedev’s fellow Russian Andrey Rublev reached a career-high position of 18 after winning the Qatar Open.

In the WTA rankings, Serena Williams moved up one place to 9 having won her first title for three years at the ASB Classic.

Next: WTA Adelaide favorites and prediction

Amanda Anisimova is up three spots to 22 after reaching the semifinals in Auckland, while Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard, who has to qualify for the Australian Open, jumped from 262 to 211.

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