The first Grand Slam of the 2014 tennis season is the Australian Open, and the excitement surrounding the start of the major has fans focused on which stars will falter in the first real competition of the year.
While top players like Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams have played well leading into this tournament and through the first round, there are well-known names that will struggle under the bright lights in Australia.
All of the following players have proved their worth at the highest level, but each will struggle to make an impact at the 2014 Australian Open.
As great as Spanish star David Ferrer has become, the 31-year-old is putting too many miles on his legs leading into major tournaments. At just 5’9”, Ferrer will have to exert more effort than the taller players on tour and should be focused on saving his stamina.
Ferrer played in two tournaments already in 2014 and was sent home early in each. Not only was he eliminated in the second round of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open to start the year, but he was also defeated in the Heineken Open after being the favorite to win it all.
Any momentum Ferrer built in 2013 has been lost with a poor showing to open the new year, but he has started well at the Australian Open by beating Alejandro Gonzalez 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, in the first round:
Unlike many of the other top players in the world that can lean on their experience to get them through the tough matchups early in a major tournament, Ferrer has never advanced past the semifinals in Melbourne.
Unless the Spaniard has another gear tennis fans haven’t seen yet, he will be eliminated early once again.
There is no question that Caroline Wozniacki is one of the brightest young stars on the women’s side, but the former World’s No. 1 player has fallen from the upper echelon and will face an early elimination at the Australian Open.
After losing to Lucie Safarova in the second round of the WTA Apia International Sydney—the tournament Wozniacki used as her warm-up for the first major of the season—the momentum that she built winning her final tournament of 2013 is gone.
Her confidence is still there, though:
Wozniacki should be able to steal a fairly easy win over Lourdes Dominguez Lino in the first round, but with no momentum after such a poor performance last week, an early exit from the Grand Slam is imminent.
The United Kingdom’s Andy Murray was already one of the most popular names on tour, but his win at the 2013 edition of Wimbledon has transformed him into one of the mainstream faces of the sport.
Despite the immense pressure on Murray to perform well at the Australian Open, back surgery last year and a lack of success in his return to the court has led to doubts about his ability to contend for a Grand Slam already.
Murray lost in the second round of the Qatar Open to start 2014 and will play Go Soeda in his first matchup in Melbourne.
While Murray deserves an immense amount of credit for making it to the finals of the Australian Open in three of the last four seasons, his lack of momentum and the rust he is clearly trying to shake off will result in an early exit from the year’s first major.
*All stats and information via AusOpen.com.