Australian Open 2013: Beginner's Guide to Tennis' First Grand Slam of the Year

Evan JavelContributor IIJanuary 14, 2013

Novak Djokovic is the favorite in the this year's Australian Open.
Novak Djokovic is the favorite in the this year's Australian Open.Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

The Australian Open is the first tennis major of the year, and  a chance for tennis fans to enjoy the game they love once more after an agonizing seven week wait.  The tournament starts Monday January 14 and goes until January 27th.

Tennis players play year-round and a single tournament lasts two weeks, which is why the life span of a professional tennis player is among the shortest in sports. The Australian Open is potentially the most demanding of all the majors with the hot humid temperatures characteristic of Melbourne in the summer, and, not to mention, the unforgiving hard courts that the tournament is known for as well.

The Australian Open is the first chance for fans to see the elite players in the world. The most elite of which is Novak Djokovic, who is currently the favorite to win the title. Normally, he would be opposed at the top by Rafael Nadal, but, Nadal bowed out due to a stomach virus. On the women’s side, the favorite is Serena Williams, (as it always is) and her biggest competition is last year’s reigning champ, Victoria Azarenka. In any event, a possible matchup between the favorites would not be until much later in the tournament.

That is not to say that the first round is without its intriguing matchups. For the men, the first round matchup to watch for is Gael Monfils vs. 18th-seeded Alexandr Dolgopolov. Although Monfils isn’t seeded, he has shown his meddle in the past and should prove good competition for Dolgo (as the kids are calling him these days). For the women, 10th-seeded Caroline Wozniacki vs. three-time WTA champion Sabine Lisicki should be an entertaining match.

Although the top seeds are the overwhelming favorites, several athletes have a legitimate shot at winning the tournament. For the men—the rapidly improving Andy Murray, the ageless Roger Federer and the diminutive David Ferrer—all have a serious shot at finishing on top. For the women, camera model Maria Sharapova, up-and-comer Petra Kvitova and quarterfinal veteran Agnieszka Radwanska—all will vie for the title.

However, in a competitive atmosphere like the Australian Open, anyone can rise to the occasion and be named a champion.