A look at the Australian Open
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Australian Open
Sir Andy Murray is the top seed of this year’s Australian Open.

This iteration of the Australian Open sees Sir Andy Murray as the top seed. Murray, who finally broke through and dethroned Novak Djokovic as the World Number 1 at the end of last season with a stellar post-US Open run, has never been seeded first at a Grand Slam. He has also never won the Australian Open, despite reaching the final five times. This record stat is one that Murray is undoubtedly hoping to snap this year. Luckily for the Scot, his path to the quarterfinals is straightforward. He opens his bid against the unseeded Ilya Marchenko of Ukraine. The two have only played once before, coincidentally at the Australian Open in 2011. Murray thumped Marchenko in straight sets and as top seed this year, another thumping seems most likely. The rest of the seeds in Murray’s section of the draw (Americans Sam Querrey and John Isner and Frenchman Lucas Pouille) have a combined 1-17 record against the World Number One. Murray will easily advance to the quarterfinals.On the opposite end of the draw, Novak Djokovic finds himself in a much trickier section. After capturing the French Open last May, Djokovic has seen his ranking and aura of invincibility slip. Since the triumph against Murray on the clay courts of Philippe-Chatrier, Djokovic has only won two titles, Toronto in July against Kei Nishikori and Doha this month against Murray in a grueling 3-set match. Despite his recent dip in form and concentration, Djokovic must be happy to return to his hunting grounds in Melbourne. He has won the Australian Open six times and will hope to win a record seventh this year. To do so, he will first have to fight through Fernando Verdasco. The Spaniard held five match points against Djokovic in the semifinals of Doha this month but could not convert. Last year, Verdasco knocked Rafael Nadal out in the first round of the Australian Open in an incredible

On the opposite end of the draw, Novak Djokovic finds himself in a much trickier section. After capturing the French Open last May, Djokovic has seen his ranking and aura of invincibility slip. Since the triumph against Murray on the clay courts of Philippe-Chatrier, Djokovic has only won two titles, Toronto in July against Kei Nishikori and Doha this month against Murray in a grueling 3-set match. Despite his recent dip in form and concentration, Djokovic must be happy to return to his hunting grounds in Melbourne. He has won the Australian Open six times and will hope to win a record seventh this year. To do so, he will first have to fight through Fernando Verdasco. The Spaniard held five match points against Djokovic in the semifinals of Doha this month but could not convert. Last year, Verdasco knocked Rafael Nadal out in the first round of the Australian Open in an incredible five-set match. Djokovic needs to play his best to advance against such a streaky but powerful player. The most likely outcome of this opening round tussle is a four-set victory for Djokovic. After his opening round test, Djokovic will have no trouble advancing to the fourth round. There, he is projected to meet Grigor Dimitrov, the talented Bulgarian who is only just starting to regain his confidence. Dimitrov will be a massive test for Djokovic. The Bulgarian beat three top-10 players consecutively to win in Brisbane last week and will not fizzle out in the early rounds this year. Dimitrov has beaten Djokovic once before and has kept several other matches close. Dimitrov can beat Djokovic and, given his recent run of form, will be high on confidence. If Djokovic manages to get through Dimitrov he will roll through into the final, though his victory over Dimitrov is far from guaranteed.

After his opening round test, Djokovic will have no trouble advancing to the fourth round. There, he is projected to meet Grigor Dimitrov, the talented Bulgarian who is only just starting to regain his confidence. Dimitrov will be a massive test for Djokovic. The Bulgarian beat three top-10 players consecutively to win in Brisbane last week and will not fizzle out in the early rounds this year. Dimitrov has beaten Djokovic once before and has kept several other matches close. Dimitrov can beat Djokovic and, given his recent run of form, will be high on confidence. If Djokovic manages to get through Dimitrov he will roll through into the final, though his victory over Dimitrov is far from guaranteed.

Other players to watch include Roger Federer, Alexander Zverev, and Jack Sock. Federer, who took a six-month break following his Wimbledon semifinal loss, comes into the 2017 Australian Open as the 17th seed, his lowest seeding since Wimbledon in 2001. Federer begins his campaign against Jurgen Melzer, a match he will undoubtedly win. In the second round, he will face one of Noah Rubin or Bjorn Fratangelo, two Americans who had to advance through the qualifying rounds. Regardless of whom he faces in the second round, Federer should have no issues advancing to the third round, where he is projected to meet his first top-10 player since the summer. Luckily for Federer, he is slated to meet Tomas Berdych, whom he has utterly dominated since 2014. Since 2014, Federer has dropped one set to the Czech and has won five consecutive matches. Even on the comeback from injury, Federer will be able to extend his winning streak. Beyond the third round, however, Federer’s path becomes exponentially more difficult. Kei Nishikori is practically a shoe-in to the fourth round where he will meet Federer. The Swiss leads their matchup 4-2 and has won the previous three matches. Nishikori, however, loves these hardcourts, having reached the quarterfinals here three times. This match is a tossup and the winner’s joy will be short-lived. In the next round, the quarterfinals, Andy Murray will be lurking. Neither Federer nor Nishikori will advance beyond him.Federer is enjoying a comeback from injury in the last few years of his illustrious career. On the other end of the spectrum is Alexander Zverev. The 19-year-old German is on the upswing after a triumphant 2016 season. Last year, Zverev advanced to three ATP finals in Nice (a clay tournament), Hamburg (a 500-level grass tournament), and St. Petersburg (an indoor tournament). In St. Petersburg, he defeated Berdych and Stan Wawrinka back-to-back to take the title, becoming the first teenage ATP titlist since Marin Cilic in 2008. He also snapped Wawrinka’s streak of 11 consecutive wins in title matches, stretching back to Chennai in 2014 and lasting through the US Open in 2016.

Federer is enjoying a comeback from injury in the last few years of his illustrious career. On the other end of the spectrum is Alexander Zverev. The 19-year-old German is on the upswing after a triumphant 2016 season. Last year, Zverev advanced to three ATP finals in Nice (a clay tournament), Hamburg (a 500-level grass tournament), and St. Petersburg (an indoor tournament). In St. Petersburg, he defeated Berdych and Stan Wawrinka back-to-back to take the title, becoming the first teenage ATP titlist since Marin Cilic in 2008. He also snapped Wawrinka’s streak of 11 consecutive wins in title matches, stretching back to Chennai in 2014 and lasting through the US Open in 2016. Armed with a massive forehand, backhand, and serve and augmented with

Armed with a massive forehand, backhand, and serve, augmented with impressive movement for his 6’6” frame, Zverev is poised to make a deep run this year. The German will have little issue dismantling and moving through his first two rounds before coming up against Rafa Nadal in the third round. Nadal, who lost here in the first round last year, is unlikely to lose early again. Nadal and Zverev have played once before, in Indian Wells last year. In that match, Zverev served for the match in the third set but crumbled after botching an easy put-away volley on match point. This match will end differently. Expect a four or five-set battle with the 19-year-old advancing to the fourth round of a slam for the first time. From there, a quarterfinal berth is

battle with the 19-year-old advancing to the fourth round of a slam for the first time. From there, a quarterfinal berth is very possible for the young German, though moving beyond there may be too tall a task to achieve this tournament.
The last player to watch in the early rounds this tournament is 23rd seed Jack Sock. The American is not a “young gun,” seeing as he is 24, but he is slowly starting to piece everything together and make inroads on the pro-tour as a singles player. After taking his first singles title in Houston in 2015, Sock lost four consecutive finals, two of which he lost due to sickness and poor physical conditioning. In the past few months, however, Sock seems to have reoriented himself and fully dedicated himself to fulfilling his potential. During the off-season, he spent a long time working on his physical conditioning, a decision that paid dividends as he finally won his second singles title this weekend in Auckland, New Zealand. With his improved fitness and cooler demeanor on

With his improved fitness and cooler demeanor on the court, Jack Sock seems ready to make a push in the slams. Like many American players, Sock possesses an enormous forehand and powerful serve but weak backhand. His improved fitness will help him protect his backhand from better players, as Sock loves to run around his backhand corner and unload on his forehand. His forehand is also one of the heaviest shots in men’s tennis, rivaling Rafa Nadal’s forehand. Sock’s forehand, on average, has anywhere between 3500-4000 RPMs, an insane number that causes the ball to bounce up high the moment it hits the court. In addition to his arsenal of heavy weapons, Sock is an incredibly skilled doubles player and is a terrific net player, allowing him to add variety to his game.Sock opens against Pierre-Hugues Herbert, a doubles specialist. In his current form, he should have little issues advancing to the second round where he is likely to face Karen Khachanov, a young Russian with another huge forehand. Sock’s fitness and composure will see him past Khachanov and set him up to play Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for a spot in the fourth round. The two last played in the US Open fourth round, with Tsonga prevailing in 4 sets. This time around the match will be much closer, given Sock’s improved conditioning and confidence. Should he manage to topple Tsonga, he could face Marin Cilic in the fourth round for his first Slam quarterfinal. Seeing as Sock defeated Cilic in straight sets at the US Open a few months ago, he would have to feel good about his chances.

Sock opens against Pierre-Hugues Herbert, a doubles specialist. In his current form, he should have little issues advancing to the second round where he is likely to face Karen Khachanov, a young Russian with another huge forehand. Sock’s fitness and composure will see him past Khachanov and set him up to play Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for a spot in the fourth round. The two last played in the US Open fourth round, with Tsonga prevailing in 4 sets. This time around the match will be much closer, given Sock’s improved conditioning and confidence. Should he manage to topple Tsonga, he could face Marin Cilic in the fourth round for his first Slam quarterfinal. Seeing as Sock defeated Cilic in straight sets at the US Open a few months ago, he would have to feel good about his chances.This year’s Australian Open is poised to be a great tournament, with lots of exciting matchups and players fighting to advance farther than they’ve ever gone before. Check back in a week for another preview of the later rounds of the tournament.

This year’s Australian Open is poised to be a great tournament, with lots of exciting matchups and players fighting to advance farther than they’ve ever gone before. Check back in a week for another preview of the later rounds of the tournament.

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