Monday 31 December 2018 20:48, UK
Novak Djokovic believes tennis' big four – himself, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray – remain the favourites to dominate the Grand Slam landscape in 2019.
The 31-year-old recovered from an injury-hit start to 2018 to rediscover his best tennis and return to world No 1 after winning back-to-back Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon and the US Open.
Djokovic, world No 1, comes into the new season expected to enjoy further success as he aims to add to his 14 major titles and the Serb believes the younger generation of players still have some way to challenge on the sport's biggest stages.
"I think if we are healthy and playing well, the four guys still have probably the best chance to always win Slams," Djokovic said.
Only three players other than the 'big four' have won a Grand Slam since the 2005 Australian Open: Juan Martin del Potro, Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic.
Djokovic, who opens the new campaign at the Qatar Open this week, suffered a surprise defeat against Alexander Zverev in the final of the ATP Finals in London last month - a loss which followed shortly after a loss against rising star Karen Khachanov in the Paris Masters showpiece.
After his defeat against Zverev, Djokovic said he saw similarities in the German's progression with his own career and added he believed the 21-year-old could exceed his achievements in the sport.
Djokovic insisted "the next generation is already there" and highlighted Zverev, Croatia's Borna Coric, and Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas as the main threats.
"It's a matter of time when we will see some of them competing in the last stages of Grand Slams," he added.
Dominic Thiem reached his maiden Grand Slam final at the French Open in 2018 and the Austrian world No 8 admitted it was time for the next generation to step up.
"All the guys who won Slams in previous years are on tour, so it will be very tough," Thiem said.
"Yes, there are four chances for us... and we are very pumped to take one Grand Slam and maybe it is going to happen this year."
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