MELBOURNE, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- Rafael Nadal staged a remarkable comeback in 2013 and now becomes the biggest threat to Novak Djokovic's Australian Open reign.
After nine months out of the game with a career-threatening knee injury, Nadal returned to win two Grand Slams and to finish the year as world No.1, which made the biggest story of 2013.
The Spaniard is looking to become the first man in Open Era to win every Grand Slam at least twice, while he will also be hoping to move closer to Roger Federer's record of winning 17 Grand Slams - Nadal currently has 13.
Djokovic has already made Melbourne Park his own Grand Slam banker by winning four titles in the last five years and the Serbian is now aiming to win the title for a fourth consecutive year and hoping for a fifth triumph which would surpass the record he currently shares with Federer and Andre Agassi.
Djokovic finished the 2013 season with an unbeaten run through the World Tour Finals and two Masters events, in Shanghai and Paris, and now is on a 24-match unbeaten run.
In view that Djokoivic and Nadal shared three of the four Grand Slam titles as well as eight of the nine Masters titles in 2013, this year's Australian Open appears to be a straight shoot-out between the two men.
Djokoivic beat Nadal in straight sets in their last two encounters in 2013, which were in the China Open and in the ATP Tour Finals in London. And the hard courts in Australia is the surface best suited to Djokovic's game.
However, Nadal can never be written off as the Majorcan returned in his possible best season ever, winning 10 titles including the French and US Open, to answer his doubters.
Nadal certainly has the tougher draw with the inconsistent Australian young talent Bernard Tomic first and possibly Martin del Potro in quarterfinals, who beat him at the Shanghai Masters last October.
Andy Murray is the third favorite for the title. The Briton won the 2013 Wimbledon Open to become the first British winner in 77 years. He also reached the final in Melbourne three times including last year but all failed, including last year when he lost to Djokovic in four sets.
But the 4th seed is not match fit as he took a back surgery in September. He returned in Qatar but lost to Florian Mayer of Germany in the second round, which means he will go into this year 's first Grand Slam having just played two exhibitions and two ATP Tour singles matches.
2013 is a bad year for Federer as the Swiss legend won just one title and failed to reach the final of any slam, which was the first time for him since 2002. He also dropped out of the top five and suffered a shock defeat to Lleyton Hewitt in the final in Brisbane last week.
David Ferrer, who has been a fixture in the top five for years, finally reached a Grand Slam final, which he lost to Nadal in Paris. Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland had a breakthrough year by reaching US Open semifinal, defeating Thomas Berdych and Andy Murray along the way.