Australian Open 2012: Bold Predictions for Federer, Nadal and More

Michael DixonAnalyst IIIJanuary 11, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 25:  Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a forehand during the men's singles match against Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia during the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena on November 25, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Tennis' Grand Slam season is less than a week away from getting underway. The story at the Australian Open is Novak Djokovic, who's coming off of one of the best seasons in the sport's history. 

He won three Grand Slams in 2011. One of those came in Australia, giving him his second title down under. 

Let's take a look at what we can expect from Djokovic, as well as some of the other top men.

Rafael Nadal

For most standards, Nadal will do fine. For the standards that he's come to set for himself, this will be a disappointing tournament, which is to say that he won't win.

Actually, I don't think he'll even make the finals. We won't know for sure until the actual bracket comes out, but I see this being an early exit. I could possibly see a trip to the semifinals, but nothing more than that. 

Rafa has never been a dominant hard court player, and he's taking time off after this tournament to heal. That tells me that something's not quite right. When it comes time to make the run to the championship, he'll run out of gas.

Roger Federer

Again, I can't give a specific round until seeing the bracket, but I like Federer over anyone in this tournament, other than Novak Djokovic. He'll either face Djokovic in the semifinals or finals, and will lose there. If Djokovic is upset before that point then Federer is in great position to win. 

The 2012 season will be Federer's last hurrah as a real threat at every grand slam. If he doesn't win one this year, we've seen the last of them. If he does, I could see something happening in 2013 or beyond. 

Look for Federer to do his typical thing. He'll make even his toughest matches look very easy, but will ultimately fall short against Djokovic.

Andy Murray

Semifinals, at best. There's only so much this guy can do before fans lose interest. He clearly had talent, but also is a consistent no-show late in the finals against the top players in the game. 

I actually don't even like Murray to get to that point this tournament. Wimbledon and the U.S. Open give him his best chance to win. 

Look for a dominant first few matches. But when Murray gets behind in a match, I don't like his chances at coming back.

Mardy Fish

The American will give some hope that the Grand Slam drought will end, but it's not going to happen here. Still, I like a long run from Fish in Australia. Depending on the brackets, I see him making it as far as the semifinals. I would certainly put him there over Murray.

Ultimately, the problem is that he's still not rounded enough to beat a Nadal, Federer, or Djokovic. Not in Australia. At Wimbledon or the U.S. Open, I could see it a lot easier. 

In Australia, look for a good run, but the American men will have to wait at least a few more months before one of them win. 

Novak Djokovic

This shouldn't be hard to figure out at this point. Djokovic is the best player in the world, and his game is at its best in Grand Slams. Don't look for that to change in Australia. 

This is a tournament that sets up exceptionally well for Djokovic, and he's going to show just how good he is again. That's not to say 2012 will be as good as 2011 was, but the Australian Open will be.