When Rafa Nadal travels to Australia early in the New Year he will attempt to secure the only Grand Slam title he has not won more than once. The 33-year-old Spaniard has triumphed twice at Wimbledon - although not since 2010 - four times in New York, along with a remarkable 12 successes at the French Open.

But, for the newly-installed world No 1, his sole title at Melbourne Park came in January 2009 when he defeated Roger Federer in an epic five-set final. Since then, the Mallorca-born Nadal has contested four Australian Open finals, only to lose each one. In 2012, he was beaten in five sets by Novak Djokovic who seven years later ended Nadal's hopes once again. On this occasion, the 32-year-old Serb needed only three sets to clinch victory.

In between these two defeats, Nadal lost to Stan Wawrinka in 2014 and, three years later, suffered another five-set Melbourne loss, this time to Federer. In the last three of these matches, Nadal had gone into the Aussie final hoping to become the first male player since 1969, to win each of the four Slams at least twice.

The only man of the past 50 years to accomplish this feat is Rod Laver, whose Grand Slam tally combines victories secured in both the amateur and open eras. And on this occasion, Nadal will journey Down Under chasing history on two fronts, following his fourth victory at the US Open in September. His five-set win over Daniil Medvedev at Flushing Meadows earned him a 19th Grand Slam title, leaving him just one adrift of the all-time record held by Federer.

Not surprisingly, tennis betting ahead of next year's opening Slam sees the 'Big Three' firmly entrenched at the top of the men's singles market. Defending champion Djokovic leads the way with bet365 at 13/8, Nadal is the second favorite on 3/1, while 38-year-old Federer is next at 7/1. However, Medvedev's form during the American hard-court season in 2019 seems to suggest tennis could have a new Slam winner in the not-too-distant future.

The 23-year-old Russian reached four straight finals on US hard courts, winning his first Masters Series title in Cincinnati, while losing in Washington, Montreal and New York - two of these three defeats to Nadal. And this excellent form continued following his narrow defeat in the US Open final, as he claimed a second Masters Series crown with a straight sets victory over Alexander Zverev in Shanghai during October. This tournament was also played on his favorite surface (hard court), and the rising star will arrive in Australia confident that a first Slam title of his career may just be around the corner.

Medvedev is currently fourth on bet365's Melbourne Park index at 10/1, and he is likely to be named No 4 seed when the men's singles draw is made in January 2020. But for all the aspiring young male players in world tennis, they still lag behind Djokovic, Nadal and Federer who continue to dominate the higher echelons of the men's game.

Largely because of Nadal, both Federer and Djokovic are still waiting to claim a second French Open crown, which may possibly come their way at Roland Garros next June. But first up will be Nadal's attempt to make history in Melbourne where he will be hoping to end 11 long years without a second Aussie Open title and emulate Laver's achievements from the late 1960s.