Novak Djokovic's run in the 2013 Australian Open should not come as a surprise. After all, his victory over Andy Murray in the final gave him his third straight title Down Under. What is a surprise is what this win will do for the man affectionately known as The Djoker.
For all the great things that Djokovic does on the tennis court, 2012 was a bit of a disappointment for him. Sure, he led the ATP Tour with seven championships and was named Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.
However, he also won just one major championship (Australian Open). Even in a "down" season for him, Djokovic still played in three of the four Grand Slam championship finals. The only one he missed was Wimbledon, when he lost a four-set thriller to eventual champion Roger Federer.
All of that, plus this victory over Murray to win the 2013 Australian Open, has set Djokovic up for a huge season.
While men's tennis has gotten better as far as depth is concerned, there is still a significant drop-off once you get past the foursome of Djokovic, Murray, Federer and Rafael Nadal. However, that foursome has become a trinity in recent months with Nadal being out due to injuries and illness.
With Nadal looking like a wild card at this point, because we don't know when he is going to return or what he will look like when he does make it back to the court, Djokovic's path to dominance looks a little clearer.
Federer is still an incredible player, but he has reached that age (31) where his legs and endurance are not going to be what they once were. He is still capable of dominating; it will just take a little more work and effort for him to get there.
Murray is probably the No. 2 player in the world right now, regardless of what the ATP rankings tell you. He has a 7-11 career record against Djokovic, including that amazing victory over Djoker in last year's U.S. Open final.
Yet, it was clear in the Australian Open final that Djokovic was in much better condition than Murray to withstand an onslaught and still capture a victory. Murray expelled all his energy in the semifinals against Federer, but when he won the first set against Djokovic, there was hope.
Eventually, Djokovic got his legs under him, and Murray had no chance whatsoever. The key to Djokovic's Grand Slam success in 2013 will be how he adapts to the clay courts, most notably at the French Open.
Roland-Garros is the one court that has plagued Djokovic throughout his career. The French Open is the one Grand Slam title he doesn't have on his long, storied résumé. But with Nadal fighting to get his sea legs under him, this could be the year to break the streak for Djokovic.
A great start for the 2013 season is just the beginning of big things to come for Djokovic, who already has almost everything and anything a tennis champion could ask for, and is just padding his stats right now.
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