Mats Merkel became tennis coach in 2007, as a member of the Adidas Sports Marketing Tennis Division. Merkel had the opportunity to work with Ernests Gulbis, Dominic Thiem, Andy Murray, Fernando Verdasco, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Ana Ivanovic and Caroline Wozniacki. Speaking about the new season, Merkel said that Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal would not win more than one Major, as the younger competitors should find a way to steal three crowns from them. The German believes Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Grigor Dimitrov, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Denis Shapovalov and others could challenge the leading duo and reduce their Major runs in 2021. Due to the coronavirus, there were only three Major events in the season behind us, with the world's leading trio sharing them among themselves.
Novak Djokovic lifted the eighth Australian Open crown on February 1, overcoming a terrible third set against Dominic Thiem in the final and celebrating in five sets to claim the 17th Major trophy. The Austrian bounced back in September at the US Open, standing as the favorite following Djokovic's careless default. Thiem still had to work hard in the title match against Alexander Zverev, losing the opening two sets in no time before bouncing back in the third and fourth to force a decider. Alexander served for the victory, but it wasn't to be for him, as Dominic pulled the break back and prevailed in the deciding tie break to celebrate the first major title.
Mats Merkel predicts only one Major for Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in 2021.
Rafael Nadal extended his Roland Garros dominance after winning the 13th Parisian crown from 16 trips to the French capital! It was Nadal's 20th Major title, matching Roger Federer's record and standing strong at his beloved event once again to win the title without dropping a set in seven encounters. Thiem, Djokovic and Nadal landed in Adelaide yesterday and will serve a two-week quarantine before heading to Melbourne for the ATP Cup and the Australian Open.
"It should be an exciting year. If we have a regular season with all four Majors, I think that Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will not take more than one, leaving the other three to their opponents. Dominic Thiem is their biggest rival; he is constantly improving his game. I'm impressed by how he left the coronavirus period behind him and claimed the US Open crown. It's a shame he couldn't crown the season with the ATP Finals trophy. Alexander Zverev is great potential, although he still has to make many improvements, starting with his initial shot. If he finds a way to improve it, he should construct the points more quickly. Stefanos Tsitsipas didn't play that well in 2020, but I'm expecting a lot from him in 2021, like also Grigor Dimitrov, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov," Mats Merkel said.