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Beyond the Baseline

Federer tips Djokovic as Aussie favorite

Novak Djokovic Novak Djokovic has made at least the Aussie quarterfinals every year since 2008. (Mark Baker/AP)

While most of the pre-Australian Open talk surrounds Serena Williams' third step to a "Serena Slam," it's easy to overlook the fact that Novak Djokovic is chasing history as well.

Djokovic is looking to become the first man in the Open Era to win three straight Australian Opens and join Roger Federer and Andre Agassi as the only men to win four titles overall in Melbourne.

How good are Djokovic's chances?

Pretty good, if you believe Federer in the Australian Associated Press.

"Novak is the favourite going into Australia. He's been the best hardcourt player in the world for the last couple of years,'' said Federer.

Djokovic and Federer have dominated the Australian Open the last seven years, winning six between them, though Djokovic has been hotter of late. The Serb is riding a 14-match winning streak in Melbourne, his last loss coming to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals in 2010. Indeed, he has been the most dominant hard-court player over the last two seasons, amassing a 96-10 record to Federer's 87-14.

The two will also have to contend with Andy Murray, who is seeking to win back-to-back Slams after finally breaking through at the U.S. Open by beating Djokovic in the final. Murray, a two-time Australian Open finalist, has still never beaten Federer at a Slam, though he did come through against Federer in the Olympic final.

Federer enters the Australian Open with no match play for the first time since 2008. He's looking forward to the challenge of fending off his younger rivals.

"I love the pressure of playing and, with the new generation coming up, I have to work harder to stay at the top with the best,'' Federer said. "Everyone has to fade away eventually, but I'm not 89 yet.''

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