The draw for Australian Open 2015 has lined up some mouth-watering matches in prospect for the early rounds of the year’s first major. Last year’s men’s singles champion Stanislas Wawrinka opens the defence of his sole Grand Slam title to date against Turkey’s Marsel Ilhan and has a favourable draw, but he still faces the usually stiff competition from Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and maybe, just maybe, Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard is the real question mark because a wrist injury forced him to miss a lot of playing time late in the year, including the U.S. Open. Wawrinka on the other-hand, on the way to winning the title last year successfully defeated Djokovic in the quarterfinal and Nadal in the final. He wasn’t able to repeat that success though, in any of the other Grand Slam events, getting knocked out in the quarterfinal at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
The top two in the ranking, Djokovic and Federer, are one step above the others and it’s hard to see the winner not being one of them. Over two years have passed since Federer’s last major triumph at the 2012 Wimbledon tournament and speculation grows about whether he can win another one. If Federer can win his first few matches with a minimal amount of dropped sets, he won’t have to expend as much energy and can reduce the strain on his back. Reducing his time on the court in the oppressive Melbourne heat during the first week will help him in the latter stages of the tournament. Djokovic loves it in Melbourne, if you have any doubts, just check out his four Australian Open trophies. He’s trying to win his fourth title in five years, and he’s had the luck of the draw, with Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer on the other side of the draw.
The outsider on the men’s side has to be Andy Murray, who is the No. 6 seed and finished last season on a good run to salvage an otherwise disappointing year. The 27-year-old has been a finalist in this tournament three times, most recently in 2013, but he struggled to recover from the back surgery he had in late 2013. Murray, though will have his hands full, as he will probably have to get passed Dimitrov and Federer before reaching an eventual final against Nole.
A final thought, stats have proven that No. 1 seeds are significantly more likely to make the final than No. 2 seeds, and that they are nearly twice as likely to win it, so it does look bright for Nole.
Some Hot Tips Men:
Novak Djokovic withdrew from Abu Dhabi exhibition with a fever, just when he was about to play Andy Murray in the final and then went on to lose to Ivo Karlovic, the tallest man on the tour, in Doha. Not the most impressive start to his 2015 season: Tepid but still a tough cookie!
Roger Federer just picked up where he left off in 2014, by beating Milos Raonic in the Brisbane final, his 1000th career win and his 83rd ATP title: On Fire, plasma heat!
Rafael Nadal has had a horrible start to his latest comeback, taking his win-loss record over the past 12 months to an alarming 6-6. The Heavy defeat to Murray in the Abu Dhabi exhibition followed by an even more worrying loss to world No. 127 Michael Berrer in Doha: Frozen, and not the Movie kind!
Stan Wawrinka achieved what nobody ever had previously last year by winning a maiden grand-slam title, a maiden Masters 1000 title and a maiden Davis Cup. He has started this year in equally commanding fashion by winning Chennai without dropping a single set achieving his first successful defence of an ATP title: Hot.
Kei Nishikori had a promising start in Brisbane, where he slaughtered Aussie favourite Bernard Tomic before Milos Raonic edged him out in a lengthy three-setter that featured zero breaks of serve: Warm.
Andy Murray has not played an official ATP match yet, but still looked sharp and speedy in both Abu Dhabi and the Hopman Cup. Rumours have it that he really has the bit between his teeth this season after a disappointing 2014, which was disrupted by his back surgery and consequent long recovery: Hot