The betting odds suggest that only five players are given any realistic chance of lifting the Men’s Open title at this year’s Australian Tennis Open which begins in Melbourne on 15 Jan 2010. The six are led by world number one, Roger Federer, while reigning champion, Rafa Nadal is only rated as fourth favourite.
For many, the men’s singles tour for 2010 is poised to be the best ever with a host of players in with great chances of Grand Slam success. This opening Grand Slam however does seem to be in the hands of the top five. They are:
Federer ended 2009 as World Number One after lifting two further Grand Slam titles and finishing Runner Up in the other two. His year began with a pulsating final against his greatest rival, Rafa Nadal in Melbourne where he went down in the five set thriller. However not only did he bounce back he went to Paris and won the French Open for the first time in his illustrious career; that win equaled the record of 14 Grand Slam titles held by Pete Sampras. The great Swiss star was soon to surpass that record when he won a thrilling five set final at Wimbledon against Andy Roddick, claiming his sixth Wimbledon crown in the process. Federer also made the final at the US Open but was beaten by the emerging Argentine star, Juan Martin del Potro.
Rated by bookmakers as the second favourite to win in Australia, Murray comes to the tournament with the game to win, but will he once again find one player too good for him on the day. He climbed the world rankings to number two last year but by the year’s end he was back to number four and is one of only two player in the top six yet to win a Grand Slam. Surprisingly he was beaten in each of the 2009 Grand Slams by players rated below him. He lost in the last 16 in Melbourne to Fernando Verdasco, in Paris he was beaten in the quarter final by Fernando Gonzalez. At Wimbledon where he looked like the bst player for a while, he was knocked out in the semi final by Andy Roddick and at the US Open he was beaten in the last 16 by another of the emerging stars, Marin Cilic.
Winner of the Australian Open in 2008, Novak Djokovic finished 2009 at number three in the world rankings after a year which saw him win five titles and finish runner up in a further five. He played more matches than any other on tour in 2009 winning 78 and losing 19. The only surprise to what was an otherwise fantastic year for the Serb, was that he failed to reach a single Grand Slam Final. He was forced to retire at the quarter final stage in Melbourne when losing to Andy Roddick and was surprisingly beaten in straight sets at the French Open in Paris by Phillip Kohlschreiber. At Wimbledon he reached the quarter final losing to Tommy Haas and at the US Open he was beaten by Federer in the semi final in three tough sets.
Injury stricken for most of 2009, Nadal had started the year as world number one, however after lifting his first hard court Grand Slam tournament by winning the 2009 Australian Open, his Grand Slam year went into decline after a leg and abdomen injuries. He lost for the first time at Roland Gaross in five years in the French Open and was unable to defend his Wimbledon crown through injury. Nonetheless he entered the US Open at the end of August and reached the semi final stage only to be beaten by eventual winner, Juan Martin del Potro.Nadal has started 2010 in fine style winning the exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi and is looking like he could be back to his best in time to defend his title in Australia.
Juan Martin del Potro
Reigning US Open champion, Argentine, Juan Martin del Potro will come to Melbourne as a major force to be reckoned with and with every chance of winning the tournament. Aged only 20, this lanky right hander has the perfect game for hard court tennis and proved beyond any doubt that he has the temperament to match his ability. He made the quarter finals at both the Australian and French Opens, but failed miserably at Wimbledon going out in the second round to Aussie. Lleyton Hewitt. His win in the final at the US Open against Federer was easily his best result of his fledgling career and it is surely a case of going on from there. His Grand Slam results in 2009 coupled with his performances in the Masters series earned him the number five spot in the world rankings which is where he will begin the 2010 season.
The 2010 Australian Open Odds suggest that the battle for the mens title will be the closest for some years but it is difficult to look beyond three time Champion, Roger Federer, from adding a fourth Australian Open to his roll of honour.