Novak Djokovic won’t challenge Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in 2018, claims Marat Safin

Djokovic won't challenge Nadal and Federer in 2018, claims Safin
Will Djokovic rediscover his mojo? (Picture: AFP/Getty)

Marat Safin does not see Novak Djokovic returning to ‘very high levels’ in the future and believes Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will continue to dominate tennis in 2018.

The 12-time Grand Slam champion was forced to end his season early due to an elbow problem and hasn’t played a competitive match since retiring from his quarter-final clash with Tomas Berdych at Wimbledon.

Djokovic has joined an unusually large number of ATP stars on the sidelines this season, with Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic among the most high-profile casualties.

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Marat Safin about to hit a sliced backhand
Safin is not expecting much from Djokovic (Picture: Getty)

In the absence of the top-five players in 2016, Federer and Nadal have split the four Grand Slams between them and sit atop of the ATP rankings heading into the new season.

The pair embarked on their own comebacks at the start of the year, with Federer struggling with a knee issue and Nadal a wrist problem, and attention has now turned to how the returning gang of 2018 will adapt.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the trophy presentation for the Shanghai Masters
Federer and Nadal have dominated 2017 (Picture: Getty)
Andy Murray preparing to hit a backhand
Murray is on the comeback trail (Picture: PA)

Former world No. 1 Safin is expecting Murray to have plenty of ups and downs, although insists he will struggle to maintain a consistent challenge against the established duo, but he has concluded that Djokovic won’t return to the top level full stop.

‘The next season Nadal and Federer will always be in the lead, while I do not see Djokovic able to return to very high levels, for him it will be a difficult situation,’ he told Live Tennis.

‘Murray will have some highs and lows, but if Nadal and Federer do not hurt, he will not be able to do anything.’

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