The 2014 season may be over but tennis fans are already speculating about the first Grand Slam of next year, The Australian Open. In 2014 fans witnessed the first signs of decline within the dominance of the Big 4 over the ATP tour.
The Big 4 – which consist of multiple Grand Slam winners Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djockovic and Andy Murray – had a stranglehold over the men’s game entering the 2014 season. The last Grand Slam won by someone outside the elite group was Juan Martín Del Potro at the 2009 US Open.
However, this season saw the ATP tour’s hierarchy change significantly over its course. Both Swiss number-two Stan Wawrinka and former prodigy Marin Čilić won hard-court Grand Slam events, at the Australian Open and US Open respectively. Whilst Nadal and Djockovic did emerge victorious at the other two Grand Slams of the year, this season still marked a decline for the Big 4.
It was a season notable for Nadal’s frequent injuries, which saw him withdraw from the US Open, and Andy Murray’s erratic return to form after back surgery. Meanwhile, Novak Djockovic suffered some uncharacteristic mental lapses, including a puzzling loss to underpowered Kei Nishikori at the US Open. As for Federer, despite some progress at smaller events, he showed continued decline in Grand Slam play.
With injuries and uncertainties, fading legends and upcoming stars, the ATP tour has not entered a season so brimming with possibilities in quite some time.
Place your Bets
With the ATP tour being in slight chaos, and no one being entirely sure who is going to snatch the Australian Open crown, there has never been a better time to place a bet on a potential champion. With websites like http://www.gamblingland.com – which compare and review not just online casinos but sports betting websites as well – why not tally up the deals, consider odds and put your money where your mouth is? Furthermore, to help you work out who’s a safe bet, here is a round-up of the favorites and contenders.
The current world number one is a four-time champion at this event. The Serbian’s smooth groundstrokes, excellent defense and supreme fitness means that he thrives on the medium-paced hard courts under the beating Australian sun.
Whilst the Swiss number one has suffered some early losses at the other three Grand Slam events in recent years, he has not lost before the semi-final at the Australian Open since 2004. Federer is known for his punishing but effective off-season training regime, so you know he will be ready to dominate from the first round onwards.
The champion in 2014, Wawrinka had an erratic season after this career-defining victory. Whilst the world number four also won a maiden Masters title this season at Monte Carlo, he also posted mediocre to poor results at the other Grand Slams. However, the Swiss player did push Federer to his limits and beyond during their semi-final battle at the World Tour Finals and, when his game is dialed in, few can stay with the raw power of Wawrinka’s backhand.
The former Wimbledon champion had a fine end to the season, if slightly tainted by a 6-0, 6-1 thrashing by Federer in his final match, and looks to have almost found the consistent power needed to contend for big titles again.
Nadal had knee and back injuries to compete with this year, not to mention his advancing age and body-punishing style of play. However, the Spaniard has a record of successful comebacks and his top-spin heavy game and excellent movement will be assets on slow hard courts.
He is the most consistent and hardworking of the younger generation of players. The 2014 US Open finalist had wins over all the big players this season and his superb fitness will benefit him in the punishing conditions of the Australian summer.
So who do you think will win it in 2015? Let us know in the comments below. And if you have a dark horse who didn’t make the list, feel free to share it!