2020 Australian Open Expert Picks: Men's champion, dark horse, bust

2020 Australian Open Expert Picks: Men's champion, dark horse, bust

The seven-time champion is our consensus pick to win again, while the No. 7 seed isn't inspiring much confidence.

View the entire men's bracket at our Australian Open tournament page.

View our women's expert picks here.


With the way Novak came out swinging to begin 2020, it’s hard to imagine anyone stopping him from beaming for two weeks at the Happy Slam.

STEVE FLINK: Stefanos Tsitsipas
I picked the No. 6 seed to win two weeks ago, and will stand by that call—even though he may need to topple Djokovic, Federer and Nadal to do it.

CALE HAMMONDNovak Djokovic
How can you pick against Djokovic, at his favorite tournament, two weeks after beating the oddsmakers' second and third favorites in Nadal and Medvedev at last week's ATP Cup?

ED MCGROGAN: Rafael Nadal
A potential fourth-rounder against Kyrgios is a great match on paper, but a likely disappointment in practice. If Nadal meets Djokovic in the final, he'll need to snap an nine-match losing streak to the Serb on hard courts. But being one Slam away from tying Roger Federer for the first time should give Nadal all the motivation he needs to turn the tide, at least for one night.

ASHLEY NDEBELEStefanos Tsitsipas
He took out Federer en route to a semifinal run last year. The 21-year-old has the total tennis package—and, this year, is ready to break from the Big Three's grip.

NINA PANTIC: Novak Djokovic
After a 6-0 performance at the ATP Cup, Djokovic is on track for Grand Slam No. 17. No one is as sharp or as comfortable with the tournament conditions as he is.

There’s no reason to pick against the Serb. He’s won seven titles here so far and had great warm-up matches at this year’s ATP Cup. Although he shares the same half with Federer, I think he’s better prepared and ready for the challenge.

STEVE TIGNOR: Novak Djokovic
The seven-time champion is motivated to put the second half of 2019 behind him and keep pace with his rivals in the Grand Slam chase. Outside of a semi-testy first-rounder, he should have a smooth ride to the quarterfinals.

JOEL DRUCKER: Novak Djokovic
Roger has the world. Rafa has Paris. But no one owns Melbourne like the chiseled Mr. Djokovic. Fitness plus craftsmanship, multiplied by desire, make him the clear favorite.

Dark Horse (seeded No. 20 or lower)

Having returned from a right knee injury, the two-time major finalist established at the ATP Cup that his health—and game—are back in business.

STEVE FLINK: Nick Kyrgios
Admittedly without much conviction, I pick the incredibly talented crowd favorite.

CALE HAMMOND: Kevin Anderson
The South African is unseeded, but could upset Taylor Fritz in the second round and Dominic Thiem in the third. He’s a former Top 10 player poised to climb back up the ranks.

ED MCGROGAN: Hubert Hurkacz
As I write this, he is 6-0 in 2020, with wins over Diego Schwartzman, Borna Coric, Dominic Thiem and Feliciano Lopez. He could run into Federer in the third round, but with nothing to lose, the talented Pole who lets his racquet do the talking would have a puncher's chance.

Former Next Gen ATP Finals champions Hyeon Chung and Tsitsipas used their victories as a springboard in Melbourne, each reaching the semifinals a few months later. Sinner has a chance to do it, too.

NINA PANTIC: Corentin Moutet
Having just reached the Doha final with wins over Milos Raonic, Ferando Verdasco and Stan Wawrinka, the 20-year-old has a tough opening task in Marin Cilic, but his craftsmanship will give anyone fits.

JORDAAN SANFORD: Felix Auger-Aliassime
The Canadian is close to his breakthrough moment. He’s shown he can not only compete, but defeat, top players such as Nick Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsistipas. The world No. 22 also has a pretty good look at reaching the fourth round with his draw.

STEVE TIGNOR: Hubert Hurkacz
The signs are there for a breakthrough season for this towering 22-year-old from Poland. He could play Federer in the third round.

JOEL DRUCKER: Reilly Opelka
The apprenticeship is over. We’ve long seen the serve. Now, time for the rest to make a statement.

Bust (seeded No. 10 or higher)

MATT FITZGERALD: Matteo Berrettini
The US Open semifinalist is yet to play this season, and with his first Top 10-seeding at a major, will be heavily hunted.

STEVE FLINK: Alexander Zverev
The No. 7 seed has almost no confidence at the moment. He will bow out early.

CALE HAMMONDAlexander Zverev
They say you are only as good as your second serve. Zverev's fall from grace sees him caught between the yips and a slump, and showing no signs of rebounding.

ED MCGROGAN: Gael Monfils
The limber Frenchman's game has surprisingly aged well—his late-career success may be the most unlikely example among the Top 10 vets. But Ivo Karlovic or Vasek Pospisil could negate Monfils' spry offense with their serves, and his quarter is one of the most challenging of the draw.

ASHLEY NDEBELEAlexander Zverev
Having suffered serving yips at the ATP Cup, the 22-year-old might not be able to recover so soon, and his chronic underperformance at majors won’t help his cause.

NINA PANTIC: Alexander Zverev
Zverev opens against Marco Cecchinato, a 2018 French Open semifinalist that knows how to pull off an upset. He's also started 2020 by going 0-3 while seemignly forgetting how to serve.

JORDAAN SANFORD: Roberto Bautista Agut
He has the potential and game to go far, but he can also take losses to anyone. Towards the end of last season, he took first-round losses to Mikhail Kukushkin and Sam Querrey.

STEVE TIGNOR: Alexander Zverev
The No. 7 seed’s draw is manageable, but managing it may be another thing entirely; he lost all three of his matches in the ATP Cup.

JOEL DRUCKER: Alexander Zverev
Everything from poor air quality to serving yips to lackluster Grand Slam results spells an unhappy Slam for the long-touted, highly skilled, but mercurial German.