Australian Open: Djokovic the favourite to win in Melbourne, says Pospisil

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Vasek Pospisil has backed Novak Djokovic to win the Australian Open a year after the Serbian was unable to compete.

Djokovic was denied a place in last year's tournament when his refusal to have a COVID-19 vaccine led to him being detained in a Melbourne immigration centre and later deported.

With vaccination status no longer a condition of entry to the country, the nine-time Australian Open champion is back for this year's tournament, which begins on Monday.

Djokovic played doubles with Pospisil in his first match back in Australia earlier this month at the Adelaide International 1, and speaking to Stats Perform, the Canadian tipped his close friend to go all the way in Melbourne.

"I hope he wins it. I would consider him the favourite, absolutely," Pospisil said. "If you have to pick a favourite, it's hard to pick someone else.

"Having said that, obviously there are so many great players and incredible talents put together for one week, anything can happen, right? That's sport, but I would definitely put him as the favourite and if I had a choice if someone's winning other than myself, obviously, I would put him as the hopeful for the title.

"Also, given he had a tough, tough year obviously with what happened in the past."

Pospisil denied that the frustration of missing out last year would be a factor in Djokovic's motivation to do well this time, though.

"I think he's so motivated already with his ambitions in the sport and just in life in general," he added. "He's obviously a very driven individual, which is not something you need to hear from me to know, you can see that. I don't think it will necessarily be extra motivation.

"I feel like every time he's playing a grand slam, he's maximumly motivated. I do think he's going to have a great year and I don't think that anything that happened recently will affect him in a negative way.

"I think he showed that with how he played at Wimbledon last year [beating Nick Kyrgios in the final] just speaks volumes of his character and how strong he is an as an individual. It's very, very impressive that he was able to bounce back like that."

Pospisil, ranked 94th in the world, is also confident about his own prospects at the Australian Open, saying: "I'm actually feeling good. I had a really strong finish last year.

"The last couple of months, I took a bit [of time] coming back from an injury, so it took a bit to kind of get rolling, but I'm entering with confidence, getting my ranking back up slowly and had a really good preparation. [I am] training really hard, eating well and I feel like I'm ready to go."

The 32-year-old has been drawn against countryman Felix Auger Aliassime in the first round and appreciates the task at hand against the number six seed, who won three of his four ATP titles in 2022 in October before winning the Davis Cup alongside Pospisil in November.

"I would say arguably he was the most in-form player at the end of last year," Pospisil said. "Four or five tournaments in a row and beat the top players in the world. So obviously, extremely talented young player, very physical.

"I know his game quite well. I mean, I've known him for many years. He's a fellow Canadian and Davis Cup team-mate.

"I have a lot of confidence in my abilities, so I feel like if I'm playing well, then I can beat anybody on any given day. It's going to be a tough ask just because he's playing so well these days."