Failure is guaranteed for 254 of the 256 male and female competitors at the 2013 Australian Open this January. After all, only one man and one woman can each be left standing with the coveted trophies at the end of the year's first Grand Slam tournament.
However, all failure is not created equal. While anything less than the crown will be failure for some, for many the only failure will be experiencing a letdown in the early rounds or not playing their best tennis.
With that in mind, let's take a closer look at a few men and women guaranteed to fail at this year's Australian Open.
Slam Hopefuls Who Will Be Disappointed
Despite his Top 10 ranking, Serbian Janko Tipsarevic is set to fail at this January's Australian Open. The 28-year-old, who has emerged as a serious contender at the U.S. Open over the past couple of years, has been underwhelming to say the least Down Under.
Tipsarevic is just 9-8 for his singles career at the Australian Open since 2005, and has never made it past the third round.
To make matters worse, Tipsarevic will play Aussie Lleyton Hewitt in the first round. Hewitt has made runs to the fourth round in Melbourne in two of the past three years, including 2012.
Even if he can get past Hewitt, Tipsarevic could potentially see talented players like Julien Benneteau and Jerzy Janowicz in the third and fourth rounds respectively. I suppose reaching the fourth round would be considered a success for the Tipsarevic Down Under, given his struggles. But still, expectations should always be lofty for the No. 8 seed.
The hometown favorite, Bernard Tomic is primed for an early exit at Melbourne Park this January. Yes, Tomic is coming off a win at the ATP Apia International in Sydney, but the 20-year-old Aussie was incredibly unfortunate to wind up in the same bracket with well-rested No. 2 seed Roger Federer.
Tomic will likely meet Federer in the third round if both survive their opening two matches, meaning that for the fifth straight year, Tomic will likely be headed home before the second week of action.
It's not impossible for Tomic to overcome Federer, but very unlikely. The Swiss legend has won four Australian Open titles over the course of his career, and hasn't lost in the third round or earlier at the year's first Grand Slam since 2001.
Tomic isn't a terrible player, but his location in the men's draw this year have dealt his chances of victory a crushing blow.
Past Slam Champions Set for Early Exits
Li Na hasn't been to the quarterfinals of a major since winning the 2011 French Open (her first and only Grand Slam title). She bowed out in the fourth round of the Aussie Open last year, but made runs to the semis and the final in Melbourne in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
However, as she gets set to turn 31 this February, few if any are predicting the Chinese star to make a deep run Down Under.
Na's 9-4 singles record in Grand Slams in 2012 was her worst since 2008, and that exciting championship run at Roland Garros 20 months ago is beginning to look like ancient history.
Although the first three rounds shouldn't be too much for Na to handle this January, she will likely be pitted against Aussie Samantha Stosur in the fourth round, which will likely be where Na exits, for the second straight year.
It would be unacceptable to mention Venus Williams without discussing the autoimmune disease that has hampered the female star over the past year-plus. Since being diagnosed back in 2011, the older Williams sister has dealt with swelling, fatigue and numbness among other side effects during matches.
But regardless of the excuses the 32-year-old may have at her disposal, she'll never make one. Instead, Williams will set out looking to win the Australian Open for the first time in 13 tries this January.
Unfortunately, with a potential third round matchup with Maria Sharapova looming, Williams' chances of reaching the fourth round for the first time since 2010 are not good.
If failure is losing, then yes Venus Williams will fail in Melbourne. But in this case however, the only failure for Williams will be not going out without a fight.
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