Murray, Federer: 5 Men Who Could Bag the Australian Open Title
The Quint takes a look at the five men players to watch out for at the first Grand Slam of the year.
The Australian Open will kick off this year’s Grand Slam season on 16 January. But this time, it won’t be just another Australian Open, it will be a very special one. Because big guns like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will be making a comeback after being sidelined due to injury for a long time.
Federer returned to competitive tennis in the Hopman Cup after being out of the game for six months due to a back and knee injury. And Nadal, who ended his 2016 season in September due to a wrist injury, made a comeback at the Brisbane International this month.
Novak Djokovic, who lost his form after the French Open last year, will be eager to make amends, whereas Andy Murray will try his best to stay on top.
The Quint takes a look at the five men players to watch out for in the Australian Open.
1. Andy Murray
World number one Andy Murray, who evicted Novak Djokovic from the top spot last year, had a dream 2016. He won the Wimbledon and Olympic gold medal at Rio and bagged various titles such as Beijing, Shanghai, Vienna and Paris.
Murray clinched the year-ending number one ranking by winning the ATP Finals. He took down Djokovic in straight sets in the final. The 29-year-old became the first British man to reach number one in the ATP rankings and the second-oldest player to reach number one.
But the Scottish lad is yet to win an Australian Open title. He has lost five finals in the last seven years at Melbourne Park, including four to Djokovic (2016, 2015, 2013, 2011).
2016 Match Record: 78-9; 2016 Singles Titles: 9; Career Singles Titles: 44; Major Titles: 3 – US Open (2012), Wimbledon (2013, 2016)
2. Novak Djokovic
Nobody has won more Australian Open titles than Djokovic, who won his first Grand Slam at the Melbourne Park in 2008. The Serbian won three Australian Opens in a row from 2011-13.
Djokovic will be aiming to be the first man to win seven singles crowns and break Oz great Roy Emerson’s record, who won his home title in 1961 and clinched all Australian Open titles from 1963-67.
Djokovic reached six consecutive major finals, winning five, from the 2015 Australian Open to his maiden French Open win last year.
However, thereafter he lost in the third round at Wimbledon to Sam Querrey. The Serb then crashed out of the first round in the singles event at the Rio Olympics. And after that, he was beaten by Stanislas Wawrinka in the US Open final.
But Djokovic got the better of Murray in the final at Doha to open the season. Can Djoker force his way back to the top?
2016 Match Record: 65-9; 2016 Singles Titles: 7; Career Singles Titles: 67; Major Titles: 12 – Australian Open (2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016), French Open (2016), Wimbledon (2011, 2014, 2015), U.S. Open (2011, 2015)
3. Roger Federer
No matter after how ever long Roger Federer makes a comeback, he will always be a contender in any tournament.
His record of 65 consecutive majors ended when he pulled out of last year's French Open and then ended his 2016 season after Wimbledon.
The former world number one, who hasn't added to his record 17 Grand Slam singles titles since his win at Wimbledon in 2012, has reached the semifinals or better at 12 of the last 13 Australian Opens, winning the last of his four titles in 2010.
The Swiss had a surgery on his left knee last February, leading to the disrupted season.
At the Hopman Cup, where he made his return, Federer won two singles matches and lost one.
2016 Match Record: 21-7; 2016 Singles Titles: 0; Career Singles Titles: 88; Major Titles: 17 — Australian Open (2004, 2006, 2007, 2010), French Open (2009), Wimbledon (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012), U.S. Open (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)
4. Rafael Nadal
Nadal had two lengthy stints on the sidelines last season. This include two and a half months off after pulling out of French Open before the third round with a left wrist injury. This was followed by another rest towards the end of the season after the Shanghai Masters.
In between, he won the Olympic doubles gold medal. However, the Spaniard only played four matches after a fourth-round exit at the US Open.
The 30-year-old kicked off his 2017 season with a win in an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi, then reached the quarterfinals in Brisbane.
Nadal, who is aiming for his first major title since the 2014 French Open, reached the quarterfinals or better at every Australian Open he had contested since 2007, until last year's shocking first-round loss to Fernando Verdasco.
2016 Match Record: 39-14; 2016 Singles Titles: 2; Career Singles Titles: 69; Major Titles: 14 – Australian Open (2009), French Open (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014), Wimbledon (2008, 2010), U.S. Open (2010, 2013)
5. Stanislas Wawrinka
The long-time number two in his home country (Switzerland), Wawrinka won his maiden Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park in 2014, when he beat Nadal to become the oldest first-time major winner since Goran Ivanisevic in 2001.
The three-time Grand Slam winner knows how to peak when it counts. Apart from beating Nadal in the final at the Australian Open, he won against Djokovic in the 2015 French Open final and got the better of him at the US Open last year.
According to ATP, he is 0-20 in other rounds and tournaments against the number one player.
Wawrinka broke the Djokovic-Murray run of majors when he won at the US Open last year, becoming the oldest men's champion at Flushing Meadows since Ken Rosewall in 1970.
The world number four started his 2017 season with a semi-final finish at the Brisbane International.
2016 Match Record: 46-18; 2016 Titles: 4; Career Titles: 15; Major Titles: 3 – Australian Open (2014), French Open (2015), U.S. Open (2016)
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