Who will win the men’s singles final on Sunday January 27 kicking off at 7:30pm local time in Melbourne on the Rod Laver Arena?
If you like to base what will happen in the future on the patterns, trends and most likely outcomes then you have some long-time, medium term and recent results to use to make your prediction.
Long-time: in the past 10 years of Grand Slam finals on the men’s tour of the active players only three players have won all bar two Slam finals. Roger Federer winning 17 of those 40, Rafael Nadal victorious 11 times and Novak Djokovic triumphant 5 times. The 31-year-old Federer has won 4 Australian Open championships, the 25-year-old Djokovic 3 Aussie crowns in the past five years after winning it back-to-back earlier this year and the 26-year-old Nadal once to be the only three active players to win the Australian Open in the past 10 years.
Medium term: the 1.85m Federer has won 9 Slam titles on hard courts, yet just the one slam final on grass from the past 11 Slam tournaments. The 1.85m Nadal has won two hard court Slams but no Grand Slam other than on the clay at Roland Garros for two whole years.
Recent results: The 1.88m Djokovic dominated the hard court slams in this same period winning three of the past four and is going for a third straight Australian Open. The World No.1 will be seen as the favourite to win despite the huge task of trying to become the first man to win three consecutive Australian Open singles titles in the Open era, a task great champions were unable to complete. In the Open era Ken Rosewall, Guillermo Vilas, Mats Wilander, Stefan Edberg, Ivan Lendl, Jim Courier, Andre Agassi and Roger Federer all won back-to-back Australian Open singles titles but were unable to do what confronts Djokovic.
The 25-year-old Andy Murray won the most recent hard court Grand Slam at the 2012 US Open after winning the Olympic Singles Gold Medal in London. The 1.9m Murray was the runner-up in his first four Grand Slam finals, including twice at Melbourne Park in 2010 and 2011 and goes in on a roll that could reap back-to-back hard court Slam titles and third major victory in a row. Will Murray be satisfied and lose the necessary hunger or edge to succeed after how big a toll he suffered leading up to his first Grand Slam and in that final or will his self-belief sky-rocket and shackles of mind and body crippling pressure being allowing him to play more freely and aggressively?
Can Nadal come back from injury in time to contest on the Blue Plexi-cushion hard courts, have his body steeled enough to cope with his highly demanding physical game and hit the super consistent form in such a short space of time after not competing since June last year at Wimbledon? Rafa loves nothing better than to have the mindset that he is the underdog and his fighting spirit and determination cannot be questioned. There is no doubt that the amazing Federer can set a high-enough standard of play to win further Grand Slams.
The evergreen Federer reclaimed the World No.1 ranking for all bar the final two weeks of the second half of 2012. This sets the stage for more confidence going into 2013 than he had in 2011 and 2012 possibly freeing him up of his past couple of years of increasingly tense and less aggressive play to come out on top at crunch time in key matches.
The best of the rest: outside the “Fab Four” 2009 US Open singles champion Juan Martin del Potro looms as the player that could break the stranglehold of success, to win his second Slam just as the similar framed Marat Safin did in Melbourne in 2005. The 1.98 Argentinean defeated Federer twice in the indoor hard court season to round out a great year of re-establishing himself at the top of the game.
The 24-year-old del Potro is pictured above at the contact point time between the ball and his racquet for this forehand groundstroke at the 2012 London Olympics. Twenty four years of age is the age when both Nadal and Djokovic hit their prime year on tour, both winning three of the four Grand Slams. Is it del Potro’s prime year we are about to witness?
The possibility of a withdrawal or a not yet fined tuned Nadal, del Potro the giant who slays and the resultant opening up of the draw would provide the springboard for the likes of David Ferrer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych to take that final leap.
Dangerous big-serving, hard hitting, tall timber like John Isner, Marin Cilic, Jerzy Janowicz and Kevin Anderson alongside potential threats from the less experienced brigade in Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Martin Klizan, Bernard Tomic, David Goffin and Grigor Dimitrov could upset the Top four and open the flood gates for whoever is Ready to Play and seize the opportunity on the day.
Photo credit: mbevis