If Roger Federer is to be believed, the current generation of young players are the real deal and some time soon, they will usurp the big guns at the top of the men’s game.

The problem for the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tstitsipas, Sascha Zverev, Denis Shapovalov, Felix Auger-Aliassime and others is that they may have to wait just a bit longer.

With the exception of Marat Safin in 2005 and Stan Wawrinka in 2014, the trio of Novak Djokovic, Federer and Rafael Nadal have dominated the Australian Open since 2004, winning the title 14 times in the past 16 years.

Djokovic, the defending champion, is trying to win the title for a record eighth time, while Federer has won it six times and Nadal just once, though the Spaniard has also reached the final on four other occasions.

So while Andy Murray watches at home as he continues to recuperate from a bruised pelvic bone, the odds are that one of the top three will win yet again.

Djokovic comes in having led Serbia to victory in the inaugural ATP Cup team competition and on his favourite court and with the way he played last year, beating Nadal in the final, he is the clear man to beat.

Nadal, who has barely stopped playing since he led Spain to victory in the Davis Cup in November, is the top seed while Federer, the No 3, will go in fresher than usual, a decision he hopes will not backfire,

“I have got to really make sure I get out of the gates quick,” Federer said yesterday. “Practice has been going well. “Had plenty of time to pace myself and do all the things I had to do to get ready. I hope it's enough.

“I know it's a super long road to victory. That's why I’ve got to take it one match at a time. My expectations are quite low.”

The chasing pack would appear to be led by Medvedev, the Russian who reached his first grand slam final at the US Open last year, pushing Nadal right to the limit in the final set.

Medvedev tested Djokovic at the ATP Cup and said playing the big guns more often has given him the belief he can get the job done in the biggest events.

“I think playing against them from time to time, especially the further you go in the big tournaments, the more times you play them, the more you know where you are, compared to them,” he said.

“(The) match in the ATP Cup, Novak was kind of all over me. I managed to get back, almost win the match. I mean, he still won it. They won the whole ATP Cup. But I felt I was really close.

“Matches like this gives you confidence to see that you're able to do it, but it's really tough.”

On the women’s side, the grand slams have been shared around in recent times, with 11 different champions in the past 12 events.

At 38, Serena Williams is the bookmakers’ favourite for the title, a win that would put her level with Margaret Court on 24 grand slams, the all-time record.

The American has reached four grand slam finals since returning in 2018 from the birth of her daughter and will be tested by a slew of players no longer intimidated by her presence.

World No 1 Ash Barty leads Australia’s hopes of a first home champion since 1978, while Naomi Osaka defends her title, Wimbledon champion Simona Halep tries to win her third slam and Petra Kvitova bids to go one better than last year.