AO 2014: Big 4 Perspective

The Australian Open draw has arrived putting an end to speculations of where Roger Federer finds himself in the draw and what are Murray’s chances. Not Surprisingly both are locked in a heated quarterfinal battle. Though both players admitted that they are not looking too far ahead and focused to take one match at a time. Seeded at no.6, for Roger this is something that is unusual in Australia in last ten years. It’s a kind of demotion as far as his second week opponents are concerned. He met Tsonga in quarters and Murray in semis last year which in contrast turns around as fourth round and quarters this time thanks to the drop in the rankings of all three players.

There is no easy way to the semis for world no.1 Nadal as well. He has got a handful of good players in his quarter including the first round opponent talented Australian Bernard Tomic. But given the kind of form he is in, I am not surprised if he goes through to quarters without dropping a set and possibly semis if big hitting Del Potro falls short somewhere in the early rounds. If Rafa prevails till the end to bite the silverware, a rare piece of history awaits him as only the second man behind Rod Laver to win every major at least twice.

Looking on the other half of the draw where world no.2 and three times defending champion Djokovic beckons history to win four straight titles at Melbourne park. Compared to his three big rivals, it’s safe to say he has an easy route to the final with Stan Wawrinka the only tough challenge for him in quarters. His superior run since the loss at US Open last year gives him great edge on even a spirited Wawrinka as well. There is a huge gap between him and Berdych, Ferrer or Gasquet as well who could be his possible hurdles on the road to the final.

There are likes of Raonic, Nishikori, Janowicz and Dimitrov looming behind the top players. But it’s difficult to imagine any of them as major threats at a grand slam as yet. So just like any other grand slam a No.1 vs No.2 final is expected.

Taking the current form, fitness, playing conditions and history into consideration, Djokovic is the clear favorite ahead of Nadal. Del Potro can be picked as third favorite with Murray and Federer as equal fourth.

Positives for the big four:

Roger Federer:
-Racquet change
-Induction of Stefan Edberg into his team
-Good form with enough match practice

Andy Murray:
Not many to name
-Little bit of confidence and pressure off since the Wimbledon win

Novak Djokovic:
-Dream form since being conquered by Nadal in the US Open
-Wonderful fitness
-Addition of Boris Becker would bring more diversity to his game
-Great amount of confidence and good match practice at Exhibition matches in Dubai

Rafael Nadal:
-At the peak of his powers right now
-Awesome hard court record last season gives him more confidence
-A title win coming to the first major of the year in Doha always a boost for any player

Some interesting one liners which suit our fab four:

Stop me if you can -Rafa (Man on a mission)
Stop me here if you can -Novak (Formidable in Australia)
The road not taken -Roger (Tough draw)
Oh…not again -Andy (Final phobia)

Let’s wish the best player throughout the fortnight wins the Happy Slam.

-Harish Narahari [Harish Narahari is a Sports Analyst for the Tennis Galaxy. He tweets here]

2 thoughts on “AO 2014: Big 4 Perspective

  1. I am not sure that Djokovic really is that much of a pre-tournament favourite compared to Nadal. It is very close between the two of them for sure.

  2. I see where you are coming from. It’s also really debatable whether you would want to be battle-tested or coast through. The lack of tough opponents could hurt Nole, or imagine if suddenly Gulbis or Stan enters the zone? It takes greater effort for Nole to focus too and you cant blame him if he gets a little complacent looking at the draw!

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