Predicting the 2012 Australian Open: Men's Favorites
It would be hard to think that anyone, even Novak Djokovic himself, could have predicted the dominant record-breaking year that Djokovic had in 2011.
He ended the year with a 70-6 record, three Grand Slam titles and five ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles.
With the 2011 season of Djokovic dominance behind us, let's take some time to preview the men's favorites at the 2012 Australian Open.
A former finalist here in 2008, Tsonga will come in to Melbourne playing some of the best tennis of his career as he reached the Final of the 2011 ATP World Tour Finals, losing in three sets to Roger Federer.
Expect Tsonga to make a big dent in the field here once again this year.
Last year in Melbourne, Ferrer produced the best result of his Grand Slam career, reaching the semifinals before losing to Andy Murray.
He is a true grinder out on the court, but after playing 77 matches in 2011, look for Ferrer to come in a little flat and getting upset early on.
PREDICTION- THIRD ROUND
Berdych was undoubtedly at his best in 2010, as he reached his only Grand Slam Final in London before losing to Rafael Nadal in the final.
Berdych did win a late hard court title in Beijing late last year, but I also see him coming in a little flat from the grind of 2011 and not playing his best tennis down under.
PREDICTION- FOURTH ROUND
Most people who follow tennis on any level would have expected Murray to have at least one Grand Slam title under his belt at this point. Murray certainly is talented enough to have one, but seems to get tentative in the big moments.
I still see him having a fantastic tournament here in Melbourne, but not being able to get that first Grand Slam title.
In London at the 2011 ATP World Tour Finals, Federer proved he still has some fantastic tennis left in him and is certainly looking to add to his record 16 Grand Slam titles.
While he is playing at a high level right now, it's hard to imagine his backhand can hold up through seven matches at this stage of his career.
While Djokovic showed dominance and consistency throughout this year, don’t expect him to produce the same kind of results in 2012 starting off with the Australian Open.
It seems hard to believe that he can keep that level up continuing into this year, and look for him to play with less of a sense of urgency than he did last season.
The last two years Nadal has bowed out before the semifinals in Melbourne but don’t expect the same this year as he will be hungry from losing two straight Grand Slam Finals to Djokovic.
Expect Nadal to come out of the gates playing his best tennis and getting his 11th Grand Slam title and inching closer to Federer’s 16 titles, as he continues his quest to go down as one of the best to ever pick up a racket.