Looking At The Men’s Singles Contenders For The Australian Open

Published 01/18/2015, 2:41 PM EST


It should have come as no surprise that Novak Djokovic was named the top seed in the men’s draw, at the 2015 Australian Open. He is currently ranked No. 1 in the world and is a multiple-time winner in Melbourne.

 Novak Djokovic         @DjokerNole

Determination. Focus. Spirit. #AUSOpen

In 2014, Djokovic had his string of consecutive Australian Open titles snapped at three when he fell to eventual champion Stanislas Wawrinka in the semifinals. It seems clear from this tweet that Djokovic is locked in and mentally prepared to be crowned champion again.
An aging Roger Federer, a rusty Rafael Nadal, an unpredictable Andy Murray and a host of younger players will try to stop that from happening.
Here are the top 10 seeds in the men’s draw ahead of the open:

Men

  1. Novak Djokovic
  2. Roger Federer
  3. Rafael Nadal
  4. Stan Wawrinka
  5. Kei Nishikori
  6. Andy Murray
  7. Tomas Berdych
  8. Milos Raonic
  9. David Ferrer
  10. Grigor Dimitrov

As far as local hopes are concerned, it was a case of happy new year for Tennis Australia after only two of 10 men in the Australian Open field drew seeds. Nick Kyrgios has the benefit of an opening-round match-up against Argentine Federico Delbonis, but may meet big-serving Croatian Ivo Karlovic in the second round. Evergreen Australian Lleyton Hewitt is the solitary local man in the top half of the draw and has drawn Chinese wildcard Ze Zhang.

Nishikori and Marin Cilic are definite players to watch out for after making a real impact over the past few months in world tennis. Nishikori had an amazing ATP Tour while Cilic is the reigning US Open Champion, hence making the playing field very even at the open.

As far as Roger Federer is concerned he feels that he is hitting some of the best form of his life in an ominous warning ahead of the Open, as the Swiss great guns for an 18th major title. The four-time Australian Open champion shows no signs of slowing down despite approaching his 34th birthday this year, winning 73 matches and five titles in 2014. He began the 2015 season by winning the Brisbane International and says he is in good shape as he chases his first major since Wimbledon in 2012.

Roger Federer

Tomas Berdych has reached just one Grand Slam final in his career, a poor return for such a talented player. At 29, he’s approaching the doors of the last-chance saloon, but the rangy Czech does seem to recognise that major changes have to be made if he’s to avoid being remembered as an underachiever.

Milos Raonic has been touted as a future major winner, but has much work ahead of him to develop his incredibly one-dimensional game.

Andy Murray will have been glad to see the back of a tumultuous 2014 which saw him split with coach Ivan Lendl and fail to reach the final of a Grand Slam event for the first time since 2009.  New coach Amelie Mauresomo faces a daunting task to emulate the coaching achievements of Lendl, and she’ll have to do so without the assistance of long-time Team Murray stalwarts Dani Vallverdu and Jez Green, who departed from his set-up at the end of the year.It’s impossible to appraise Murray’s season without factoring in the impact the back surgery he underwent towards the end of 2013 had on it.

Rafael Nadal has downplayed his chances of winning the Australian Open, saying his back remains a concern and he lacks confidence from having little match practice in the lead-up. On the comeback trail after injury and illness wiped out the latter half of his 2014 season, the Spaniard had a poor start to the new year, dumped from the first round of the Qatar Open by German journeyman Michael Berrer.

“No, I don’t consider myself one of the favorites here,” the 28-year-old, seeded third for the tournament, said. Last year, yes. This year is a different story. (I) would be lying if I say I feel that I am ready to win today. I don’t feel myself ready to win the tournament here today.” he added.

Verdict:

The big four’s utter domination during a golden era for men’s tennis may well have come to an end, but Novak Djokovic’s superb recent record here gives him a marked advantage over the rest of the field and he can take advantage of a favourable draw.

Roger Federer’s chances could well hinge on advancing through the early stages in straight sets and conserving as much energy as possible for the second week of the tournament.

Andy Murray should go well, but may only peak in time for Wimbledon and the US Open, while a rusty Rafael Nadal could be ripe for an early upset.

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Harit Pathak

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