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Updated January 16th, 2024 at 21:02 IST

Exclusive: Former Indian tennis player Purav Raja discusses the Australian Open

Get the exclusive insights of tennis legend Purav Raja on Djokovic's injury, Alcaraz's challenge, Nadal's absence, and Medvedev's potential at Australian Open.

Aryan Suraj Chadha
Purav Raja and Novak Djokovic
Purav Raja and Novak Djokovic | Image:Instagram/Purav Raja, AP
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One of India's most accomplished doubles tennis players is Purav Raja, who has won two titles in ATP Tour doubles competitions. His career-high World No. 52 ranking was attained in 2017, and he made significant progress by qualifying for the third round of the French Open and the Australian Open the following year.

3 things you need to know 

  • Novak Djokovic is the defending champion of the Australian Open 
  • Djokovic has been unbeatable in the Australian Open 2023 
  • Purav Raja believes that Djokovic is likely to defend his title but Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev could be second favourites 

Also Read: 'Why players going abroad': Nagal's anger towards AITA comes to fore

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Purav Raja gives his impressions of the Australian Open  2023 to the Republic Media Network

Purav Raja has won 21 doubles championships on the ATP Challenger Tour, showcasing his excellent record. He has also represented India with pride in Davis Cup matches. During a special interview with Republic Media Network before the start of the 2024 Australian Open, the 38-year-old provided his thoughts on several topics.

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Let's take a look at the conversation with the expert and Indian tennis legend, Purav Raja:

Novak Djokovic is chasing his 25th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, but he's dealing with a wrist injury. How do you think this might affect his performance, considering his impressive record at Melbourne Park?

“I honestly don't know the extent of the injury, and in my opinion, I don't think it will bother him too much moving forward. Many athletes take breaks; we witnessed it with Naomi Osaka and Emma Raducanu. Currently, we observe numerous exhibition matches being canceled. I don't perceive it as a cause for concern, and based on the information I've received, there isn't much to worry about. I believe he will be well-prepared to defend his title.”

Carlos Alcaraz has emerged as a formidable player, defeating Djokovic in the Wimbledon final. How do you see Alcaraz's current form and his potential impact on the Australian Open, especially after missing last year's event due to a hamstring injury?

“I believe Carlos Alcaraz is a formidable competitor, and this time, it could pose a significant challenge for Novak. Alcaraz might be the most formidable opponent for Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open. I find it hard to envision how Carlos could defeat him. It's challenging to believe, considering the remarkable skills he possesses, somewhat akin to Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros. Just as it's tough to surpass Nadal at the French Open, overcoming Djokovic at Melbourne Park is no easy feat. I'm having difficulty seeing how this scenario will unfold.”

Rafael Nadal recently withdrew from the Australian Open due to a muscle tear. How does his absence impact the dynamics of the tournament, and do you think this could potentially be a significant setback for his career in Australia?

“In my view, if we are fortunate enough to witness Nadal once more at Melbourne Park, it will be a stroke of luck. If not, we should simply celebrate his illustrious career, as it stands as a monumental feat. Credit is due to him for coming to Australia when he has nothing left to prove to anyone. He gave his best effort, but unfortunately, he suffered another injury. I believe his primary focus should now shift towards the French Open and the upcoming three major Grand Slam events. While it would be wonderful to see him in Australia next year, it's evident that his playing days are numbered.”

Will Nadal be able to lift one Grand Slam in 2024?

“I truly wish he deserves to claim another Grand Slam, and I extend the same wish to Federer and hope Novak can achieve it as well. These three monumental athletes are a rare breed, and we may never witness their like again in our lifetimes. While they undoubtedly deserve it, the challenge lies in overcoming the other 128 players who stand in their way. I sincerely hope he secures victory at the French Open; that would be truly amazing.”

Also Read: Australian Open 2024: Yuki Bhambri-Robin Haase pair lose in first round

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Novak Djokovic has an impressive 20-0 record in semi-finals and finals at Melbourne Park since 2018. How significant do you think this streak is, and do you believe it adds extra pressure on him to maintain this record at the Australian Open?

“In my opinion, it's an achievement that will never be matched again; it's arguably the best feat on the world stage. When we discuss athletes, liken it to cricket, envision scoring 20 centuries in a row—that's the parallel we're drawing here. Picture achieving 20 centuries consecutively and still having the standing and belief to pursue the 21st one. That's the level Djokovic is currently operating at.”

Daniil Medvedev, a finalist in 2021 and 2022, is considered a strong contender. How do you assess his chances, especially after a successful 2023 with 66 wins and five titles?

"Medvedev consistently kicks off the year in stellar fashion. Even until April last year, he showcased an impressive streak, proving nearly unbeatable. His success extended to the sunshine double, with notable achievements in Indian Wells, Miami, and Dubai. With his strong start to the year, I consider him as one of the second favorites, alongside Alcaraz. Both have proven themselves by defeating Djokovic before, making them formidable contenders who can potentially pose challenges for Djokovic." 

The extensive coverage of the first tennis Grand Slam of the year - Australian Open 2024 will be broadcast LIVE on  Sony Sports Ten 5 SD & HD, Sony Sports Ten 2 SD & HD, Sony Sports Ten 3 SD & HD (Hindi) & Sony LIV from 14th January 2024.

Indian tennis player Purav Raja is part of Sony Sports Network's expert panel for the studio show Sports Extraaa.

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Published January 16th, 2024 at 20:51 IST

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