A breathless end to 2016 saw Andy Murray claim the world no.1 spot over Serbian nemesis Novak Djokovic but who would it be to lift the season opening Australian Open title as we preview the first grand slam of the season under the sizzling hot weather of Melbourne
On his return from injury, Roger Federer will be looking to get the plaudits’ attention with a good run in Melbourne…but it was always going to be hard when you were seeded 17th in the tournament due to the long-term injury he suffered last year. It will indeed be an extremely tough two weeks for the Swiss, should he land a potential quarter-final tie against world no.1 Andy Murray, he will have to deal with top ten stars Tomas Berdych and Kei Nishikori in third and fourth round.
Rafael Nadal will also be seeking to get the crowd’s attention as he enters the new year on 9th (in the rankings), a position the Spaniard would not drool to possess but he will be given his chance on the hard courts of Melbourne to secure only his second title- if he is to find a way past the likes of Murray and Djokovic. Should Nadal progress past the first week, he will face Milos Raonic in the quarters if seedings go to plan before landing a potential semi-final versus Djokovic but that’s only a matter of hope and luck.
Serbian Novak Djokovic will be eyeing to redeem himself after a torrid end to 2016 but it definitely won’t come easy in hand as a tough first round match pitches him up against Spanish left-hander Fernando Verdasco, who defeated Nadal at this stage last year. Young British hope Kyle Edmund could possibly come in the way of the Serb but it would take nerves of steel for the 22-year old if he was to remarkably reach the third round for the second time in his career. A favourable quarter-final tie could see the six-time champion up against either David Goffin or Dominic Thiem but there is still of course plenty to do for the world no.2 in his pursuit of his seventh title in Melbourne.
After recently been knighted in the New Year’s honours, Sir Andy Murray will play his first grand slam as world no.1 but the question is… how will he cope?
Though he did lose to Djokovic earlier on this year in a tight three-set match, the Scot will have plenty of confidence still inside him after a stunning year of 2016; a year he won’t forget and of course a year the whole country won’t forget because it’s Sir Andy Murray! A convincing first week will put Murray up against no one higher than France’s 16th seed Lucas Pouille although there is the American John Isner knocking on the door awaiting Pouille in the third round- if seedings go to our preferences.
Potential quarter-finals (men’s draw):
Andy Murray vs Roger Federer/Kei Nishikori/Tomas Berdych
Stan Wawrinka vs Jo Wilfred Tsonga/Marin Cilic
Rafael Nadal vs Milos Raonic
Novak Djokovic vs Dominic Thiem/David Goffin
Potential quarter-finals (women’s draw):
Angeline Kerber vs Garbine Muguruza/Carla Suarez Navarro
Sveltana Kuznetsova vs Simona Halep/Venus Williams
Karolina Pliskova vs Agnieszka Radwanska
Serena Williams vs Dominika Cibulkova/Johanna Konta