Men's Australian Open Preview: Federer, Djokovic, And Murray Lead Nadal-less Field

on January 11 2013 2:32 PM
Men's Australian Open Preview: Federer, Djokovic, And Murray Lead Nadal-less Field

The men's seeds of the Australian Open, Jan. 14 to 27th, in Melbourne's Melbourne Park coincide with the ATP rankings: 1) Novak Djokovic (two time defending Australian Open champ), 2) Roger Federer with 4 Aussie Titles, and 3) Andy Murray. Murray the # 3 seed will meet Federer in the semifinals. Realistically if all things including the seeds hold true, the aforementioned three men should be vying for the men's singles title. 

Rafael Nadal, World # 4, and Mardy Fish, World #26, have withdrawn from the men’s side of the tournament. The absence of Nadal from the tournament (who has not played since Wimbledon last year) has left the men’s draws lopsided. Nadal's replacement # 4 David Ferrer is pretty much only a threat to the seeds above him if the surface is clay, however, the #5 seed Tomas Berdych likes to play on hard courts.

Murray having won his last best-of-five match against Djokovic (in the U.S. Open final) and Federer (in the Olympic final), retained his Brisbane Open title this past week downing Grigor Dimitrov 7-6, (7-0) 6-4, for his 25th title.  He is looking to win the Open for the first time after finishing runner-up in 2010 and 2011. 

Djokovic is seeking his third Australian Open but his preparations have not gone as well as hoped. He suffered a shocking loss to Bernard Tomic, citing jet-lag for the Hopman Cup in Perth last week.  Next Djokovic injured his knee in a freak accident while fans tried to get his autograph. With Berdych in his quarter of the draw he has to be well to advance.

Federer, now 31 with 17 majors after winning the 2012 Wimbledon, has the skills to win anywhere if health and circumstances prevail. He has played no warm-up tournaments opting to rest with family and just practice which makes him the favorite to win his fifth title. Having lost to Djokovic in the ATP Final, Murray at the Olympic Finals who is in his half of the draw, and Tomas Berdych, (ATP #6), Federer's title run will require hard work, stamina, and the fight of his younger years.

Other notables to pull out of the Open with injuries are: Gilles Simon, Radek Stepanek and Kei Nishikori. Anyone else winning the Australian Open will need everything in their favor, especially the stars aligning. Notwithstanding, on any given day, any male pro could best even the favorites.