Australian Open 2013: Novak Djokovic Is Poised to Repeat

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistJanuary 17, 2013

Novak Djokovic has made quick work of his first two opponents.
Novak Djokovic has made quick work of his first two opponents.Julian Finney/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic is well on his way to capturing his fourth Australian Open title.

The world's top-ranked male made short work of his opening opponents, breezing past Paul-Henri Mathieu and Ryan Harrison in three sets each. Djokovic will play Radek Stapanek tonight in the third round, and it's difficult to envision a different result.  

Dominant on the hard court, Djokovic could secure his third-straight Australian Open title while capturing his sixth career Grand Slam.

While he's entering his prime, we've seen Roger Federer's best days. The 31-year-old has won one Grand Slam over the past two years and is no longer the man to beat.

Federer has the overall edge on his younger foe, emerging victorious in six of their 11 Grand Slam battles. Djokovic, however, has the upper hand lately, defeating Federer in the 2010 U.S. Open and the 2011 Australian Open.

If they meet again in the finals, Djokovic should ride his younger legs to victory over his deteriorating competitor.

The one person who could give Djokovic a run for his money is noticeably absent. Rafael Nadal has not competed since June, when he injured his left knee during Wimbledon.

Last year, tennis' two titans squared off in the finals at Melbourne in a five-round classic that lasted nearly six hours. The bout set an Australian Open record for the tournament's longest match, with Djokovic outlasting Nadal.

But now he does not have to worry about Nadal. And he'll only have to deal with one of Federer or Andy Murray this year since they are the No. 2 and 3 players. 

If either one of those stars wants a crack at topping Djokovic, they'll have to go through each other first. Meanwhile, Djokovic probably isn't shaking at the possibility of competing against David Ferrer or Tomas Berdych.

The stars align perfectly for Djokovic to cement his dominance with another Grand Slam victory, which would mark his fifth since the start of 2011. If the changing of a guard hasn't been made official yet, this is probably the place to take his throne as the best player that tennis has to offer.

It's Djokovic's world, and the rest of the field are just fillers occupying empty space.