Who Will Win the Big Prizes in Men's Tennis in 2013?
2012 saw the most open year in recent memory in men's tennis. Four different players won the big prizes, with each member of the so-called "Big Four" winning a slam apiece.
Novak Djokovic retained his Australian Open title with two magnificent five-set performances to see off Andy Murray in the semifinals and conquer Rafael Nadal in one of the greatest matches ever played in the final.
Nadal, though, showed the strength of character that has become his trademark. He dominated the clay court season once again, defeating old foe Roger Federer in the final.
Nadal's run of success ran out with a second-round defeat to previously unknown Lukas Rosol, leaving the Wimbledon title wide open. Federer shocked Djokovic in the semifinal, and Andy Murray became the first British man in 74 years to reach the final at the All England Club. However, the British public would have to wait for a home champion for at least another year as the Swiss maestro showed all his class of old to win his first Grand Slam in two-and-a-half years and equal Pete Sampras' record of seven Wimbledon titles.
The following months, though, were all about Andy Murray. He won OIympic gold in front of his home crowd before finally breaking his Grand Slam hoodoo with his brilliant five-set win over Djokovic.
With the game now wide open, the question remains who will take home the big prizes next year. Here are my predictions.
Australian Open: Andy Murray
Andy Murray has come incredibly close to winning the Australian Open in the last three years, twice making the final and bowing out at the semifinal stage last year. With confidence flowing through his veins after winning his maiden Grand Slam, Murray is the slight favourite over Djokovic to take the title.
Murray is renowned for his punishing regimen in Miami over the winter period. This superior fitness and improvements in his game, particularly in the forehand area, should see him become an even more formidable opponent. His continued partnership with Ivan Lendl will not allow Murray to rest on his laurels. He will be looking to double his Grand Slam successes in January.
French Open: Novak Djokovic
The French Open has been the domain of Rafael Nadal over the last few years. Only Roger Federer managed to win a solitary title in 2009, after Robin Soderling knocked out Nadal earlier in the tournament.
Nadal won the title again last year by defeating Djokovic over four sets in a rain-interrupted match. However, there were signs that Djokovic is starting to challenge Nadal on clay. He actually defeated Nadal in a couple of finals on clay in his golden year of 2011.
With Nadal's long injury-enforced absence from the game, there are big question marks as to whether he will ever be the force he once was. I can see the remorseless Djokovic taking full advantage of this and completing his collection of Grand Slam victories.
Wimbledon: Andy Murray
After Andy Murray was knocked out in the first round of Queens by Nicolas Mahut, even the most optimistic of Murray fans would have struggled to predict the upturn in fortunes that came his way.
He made it all the way to the final of Wimbledon before succumbing to the grass court genius of Roger Federer in four sets. However, instead of wallowing on his defeat as he tended to do following previous tough losses, he bounced back with a vengeance, defeating Federer in straight sets to win Olympic gold. He also won a silver medal in mixed doubles with Laura Robson.
Murray showed that he has the potential to win the title that he covets more than any other. His game is ideally suited for the slower grass courts of Wimbledon and in 2013 he will finally end the long wait for a homegrown Wimbledon champion.
US Open: Juan Martin Del Porto
When Juan Martin Del Potro defeated Roger Federer in the final of the US Open in 2009, a new star had been born who many believed would be at the top of the game for the next decade.
However, rather than kick on and become one of the best in the world, he had been plagued by injuries that saw him take 18 months out of the game as he tried to recover.
When he came back he was quite understandably not at the same level. Although he hasn't challenged for any of the big four tournaments in 2012, he has risen back up the rankings. He has a couple of recent victories over Roger Federer under his belt and an Olympic bronze medal in his collection.
With a fearsome forehand and monstrous serve, Del Potro has a game that could be deadly across all surfaces. I believe will see him return to the scene of his only Grand Slam triumph so far and add to his collection.