Respected tennis coach Mats Merkel has made a bold prediction that only one of the 2021 Grand Slams will be won by Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal.
The controversial claims were made in an interview with tennisnet.com by Merkel who has previously worked with the likes of Dominic Thiem, Andy Murray and Caroline Wozniacki.
It is sure to be an unpopular opinion amongst fans and pundits alike, considering the recent form of both Djokovic and Nadal and their overall dominance of the game over the last few years.
Just a few months ago Rafael Nadal equaled Roger Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam titles when he won the French Open. He will, undoubtedly, be favourite to take this year’s Roland Garros crown once again.
Meanwhile Novak Djokovic finished 2020 as World number one, equaling Pete Sampras all-time record of six year-end number one finishes and has won the majority (eight) of his 17 Grand Slam titles in Australia.
Both Djokovic and Nadal are currently in Melbourne preparing for this year’s Australian Open and are seeded first and second respectively.
But Mats believes 2021 could be the year we finally see other top players stepping up and challenging consistently for the Major titles.
“It will be a very interesting year. If all four Grand Slams can be played regularly, I’ll lean out the window and say that three of the four won’t be won by Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal.”
When asked who he thinks will challenge for the titles instead, Merkel replied “Dominic (Thiem) is the absolute showpiece model game because it is constantly developing.
“I am impressed by how he got out of the Corona era and won the US Open. It’s a shame that he didn’t crown the year with a victory at the ATP Finals.
“Sascha Zverev has a lot of construction sites, but great potential. It starts with his serve. If he can get this under control and improve it, he will be able to position himself completely differently when it comes to structuring points.
“Stefanos Tsitsipas played rather average for his standards in 2020. But I’m still excited about all the guys including Grigor Dimitrov, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov,” Merkel finished.
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