Novak Djokovic has embraced the explosion of young stars dominating world tennis.

But the nine-time Australian Open champ, who still won five titles in 2022, including Wimbledon, despite appearances being limited by varying Covid rules around the world, is adamant he and fellow superstar Rafael Nadal can “mess up their plans” for domination.

Djokovic returns to Melbourne Park after last year’s scandalous deportation as world No.5 with 19-year-old Spanish young gun Carlos Alcaraz rated the world’s best player and set to be No.1 seed at the Australian Open.

Nadal separates Alcaraz and world No.3 Casper Ruud on the ranking and Djokovic declared the talent of the next crop of players meant men’s tennis was “in good hands”.

“I guess we’re going to see lots of Alcaraz and Rune (Denmark’s Rune Holger) in the future. Then Felix (world No.6 Felix Auger Aliassime) I think he’s probably playing the tennis of his life in the last five, six months,” Djokovic said in Adelaide after his opening singles win for 2023.

“Maybe because of Rune and Alcaraz, people don’t talk maybe as much about Felix because he’s been around a bit longer, but I think he deserves to be right there in the conversation right at the top with these guys, and (Lorenzo) Musetti, as well, you mentioned, someone that is putting his game together, I think is gaining more confidence and improving.

“I think for these guys, it’s only upwards in terms of direction and what they can do in this sport. They have really good personalities. I have a good relationship with all of them.

“I think it’s nice for tennis because we need — other than great tennis players, we also need good personalities, good characters, guys that know the game, respect the game, carry also the weight of the top players in this sport in a proper manner because they are ambassadors of our sport.

“Yeah, it seems like men’s tennis is in good hands for the future.”

But even at 35, Djokovic is adamant his time is not done and the world does not belong to the next generation just yet.

“What Alcaraz has done last season has been extremely impressive and historic for our sport, so he deserves praise, no doubt,” he said.

“He’s already now — he’s No. 1 in the world. There’s no higher peak to climb than that one, and already won a Slam, and he’s still so young.

“I feel like every generation has some great talents to offer.

“I’m sure that Nadal and myself will try to mess up their plans a little bit for I don’t know how long, but we’ll try.”

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