Greetings. Since the last time I posted, the Argentines won their first Davis Cup title so congrats to them and especially Del Potro who was the hero of the tie. He came back from two sets to love down to defeat Cilic 6-7(4), 2-6, 7-5 6-4, 6-3 in the second singles which paved the way for Del Bonis to play a brilliant match against Karlovic which clinched the title for the Argentines.
I was really happy for Del Potro after everything he’d been through with his injury. He was also the last player to defeat Murray when he won another epic five-setter against him in the tie against Great Britain.
I’m looking forward to seeing what Del Potro can do in 2017 if he stays healthy. This year was a rebuilding year for him in which he won his first title since 2014 in Stockholm, made the Olympics finals, and won the Davis Cup.
If he stays healthy he will be a serious threat and may even win another slam. I for one would be delighted for him if it happens.
- Who is the Australian Open Favorite?
Now let’s get to today’s topic. Usually, when the Australian Open comes around there is only one obvious favorite and that is Djokovic. According to some of the so-called experts, that is not the case next year.
To be fair to Murray, he hasn’t lost a match since that Davis Cup defeat to Del Potro before Beijing and he is now the world number one. He has been on a great run which culminated in him defeating Djokovic in the London finals.
I’m not overlooking that. With Lendl back in his corner, he has taken his game to another level and is now a serious threat to Djokovic. That said, we all know Djokovic was far from his best in the London final.
The way I look at it, Djokovic started finding his old form in London again if you leave out the final. That is an ominous sign for any rival who have hopes of winning the Australian Open next year.
Yes, Murray is on a dominant run but Djokovic is still the favorite in Melbourne for me. The Australian Open king has won the title there five times out of the last six years. And it’s not like he hasn’t been in this situation before.
Back in 2011 he had that slump toward the end of the year and faced one of the all-time greats Nadal in the Australian Open final the following year. We all know what happened then. He defeated Nadal in one of the all-time great major finals.
Back in 2011 Djokovic didn’t even qualify for the semis in London winning only one match in his group. I would argue he is much better prepared this time and with Doha before Melbourne he will get some more matches to make sure he is in peak form.
- The Return of Federer and Nadal
In my last post, I talked about the absence of Federer and Nadal toward the end of the year after Becker said Djokovic ran out of opponents. I think their return will be another big motivating factor for Djokovic.
They are his two biggest rivals that motivated him to become an all-time great himself. The tour just feels more familiar for him with them in the mix and they bring out the best in him.
Murray, on the other hand, doesn’t have the greatest of records against them and their return could have the opposite effect on him. Either way, I think the stage is set for Djokovic to play his very best tennis in Melbourne again.
And he needs to because I can’t help but feel like that will be quite a critical tournament for him. Melbourne is his turf where he needs to make a stand and let Murray know that he is still the real number one.
Djokovic let things slip a bit since he won the French Open this year but things aren’t critical yet. If he allows Murray or someone else to win the title on his turf then there is more reason for his fans to be concerned about his future.
But for now, as a fan myself, I am not concerned. There is no need to have a fatalistic outlook. Everyone has setbacks and slumps in life. What makes the difference between winners and losers is how they deal with it.
Whatever the case may be, the Australian Open next year promises to be another exciting installment of which is probably my favorite slam nowadays.
With Murray, Wawrinka, Del Potro, and the return of Federer and Nadal there will be plenty of exciting matches and plenty of challenges for the reigning Australian Open champ.