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Oct 15

Who will prevail in Melbourne?

The recent U.S. Open gave us a very odd image – a final that wasn’t contested by Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray. The final between Marin Cilic (winner) and Kei Nishikori was the first time since the 2008 Australian Open – which, ironically, was won by Djokovic – that there was a guaranteed new Grand Slam winner.

So with that in mind, who is going to win the Australian Open? Will it be a return to dominance for the “Big Four” or has the US Open ushered in a new era of tennis?

Let us start by putting that final part of the question to bed. No way has Cilic’s victory ushered in a new way in tennis. Kudos for him for taking his chance while he had it, but the opportunity likely won’t arise again for some time. Quite frankly, he isn’t good enough. No, it will be back to business as usual for Djokovic, Nadal – if he plays – Federer and Murray at the Australian Open. In fact, the only player that could trouble them is the hugely exciting Australian youngster Nick Kyrgios, but that would take some serious doing.

So it is decided then. One of the “Big Four” will win the Australian Open, but who? We will assess that now.

Novak Djokovic

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Image: Kulitat

The Serbian is quite rightly the favourite with Betfair to win, given he is the world number one ranked tennis player at this point in time. Djokovic has an athletic pedigree that has never been seen in a player before and one that will probably never be seen in a player again. Despite being 6-foot-2 he is as agile as a cat – forcing his body into positions that Olympic level gymnasts would be happy with. In another life he could quite easily have been a dancer, his splits are better than most peoples.

Away from his flexibility, Djokovic is a beast. Here is a player who is content at staying at the baseline and just hitting shot after shot, waiting for the opportune moment to move in. When he does, the point is lost. The 27-year-old is the perfect tennis recipe. He can serve, he can return, he can attack, he can defend and his two-handed backhand is the best of all time.

Questions were once raised about his mentality but he has put all of those to rest after his victory at Wimbledon 2014. After racing into a two-set lead Novak had numerous opportunities to put the match to bed, but Roger Federer would not die. Eventually the Swiss ace managed to level it 2-2 in sets. With the momentum well and truly with Federer, Djokovic found another gear, going on to win the final set 6-4. If there ever was a sign of champion, that’s it.

The hard courts favour Djokovic tremendously. He has the pace to cover every yard of the court, while he loves playing at the Rod Laver Arena, he’s won the Australian Open four times.

When the Australian Open commences, Djokovic is certainly the man to beat.

 

Raphael Nadal

The Spaniard is currently fighting appendicitis, but he will hopefully be able to arrive in Australia in good shape. Nadal is an anomaly. He is a bull on the court, the fact that he is delaying surgery on his appendicitis until after the ATP Finals, in early November, shows just how resilient the Mallorca man is.

1Clay is where Nadal is at his most ruthless, but that’s not to say he cannot play the hard courts. He only has one victory in Melbourne to his name; the main reason for this is that he is either absent due to injury or beginning his comeback from injury. We rarely see a fully fit Nadal in Australia.

If Nadal arrives in Australia fully fit then he is the main threat to stopping Djokovic winning a fifth title.

Image: y.caradec

 

Roger Federer

The year 2014 saw a resurgent Roger Federer. The less said about 2013, the better. Many thought that Federer’s time had come to an end. For the first time in 36 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments Federer had failed to make a quarter-final.

Another legend of the game, Steffan Edberg, came into coach the greatest player of all time in the latter stages of 2013, and what a difference that made. This year has seen Federer return to his impeccable best, albeit minus a Grand Slam.

Although he doesn’t have the legs to cope with the running that hard courts necessitate, Federer is a ring-general. He dictates the play. If he wants you over to the right, you going to be over to the right. What he lacks in pace he makes up for in skill.

He was written off but returned in remarkable fashion. No longer do people look at him as a player on his way out. No, now he is back where he should be: a player to be feared.

As he has proven, you can never say never with Federer. If he makes it to the final then who knows?

1The year 2014 saw a resurgent Roger Federer. The less said about 2013, the better. Many thought that Federer’s time had come to an end. For the first time in 36 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments Federer had failed to make a quarter-final.

Another legend of the game, Steffan Edberg, came into coach the greatest player of all time in the latter stages of 2013, and what a difference that made. This year has seen Federer return to his impeccable best, albeit minus a Grand Slam.

Although he doesn’t have the legs to cope with the running that hard courts necessitate, Federer is a ring-general. He dictates the play. If he wants you over to the right, you going to be over to the right. What he lacks in pace he makes up for in skill.

He was written off but returned in remarkable fashion. No longer do people look at him as a player on his way out. No, now he is back where he should be: a player to be feared.

As he has proven, you can never say never with Federer. If he makes it to the final then who knows?

Image: toga

1Andy Murray

The Scot endured a torrid 2014, a stark contrast to his fantastic 2013, which saw him win Wimbledon.  That said, Murray was returning from surgery, so his season has hardly been that much of a failure. He needed game time and that is what he is getting now. When the Australian Open comes around he would have had a year of uninterrupted play, and he should be back at his best.

 

 

 

                                                                                                          Image: Carine06

 

Conclusion

The reason Cilic won the US Open was because of the injuries to Murray and Nadal. Had they both been fully fit neither he, nor Nishikori would have made it to the semi-finals.

As for who is going to win the Australian Open, that should be Djokovic. Nadal often struggles at this tournament and may not be 100 percent. Despite the skill of Federer, Djokovic has the power and the pace to neutralize him. Murray is a similar player to Djokovic and poses the Serbian all types of problems, so if he gets into the ATP Finals and does well then he probably poses the biggest threat to Djokovic. But, in all likeliness, the title is Djokovic’s.

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