It’s that time of the year again, the first Grand Slam of the season. I must confess I am a huge tennis fan — horrendous player, avid watcher — and I will be following it with great interest.
Just my initial thoughts: my head says Djokovic. I must say I wasn’t a fan of him for a long time — partly because of his ‘joker’ tendencies but mainly because I thought he was mentally weak. He had a tremendous year in 2011 of course and now has my grudging respect. Barring any crazy results I expect him to beat Murray and be in the final.
My heart still says Federer. It probably always will. However, there’s some substance behind that hope. Of the big-3 (or 4 including Murray), Federer has the best chance of beating Djokovic. In 2011 Djokovic absolutely OWNED Nadal, defeating him in 6 finals, over all surfaces. Nadal’s biggest weapon, the heavy topspin forehand, is neutralised by Djokovic’s awesome movement and two-handed backhand. Otherwise, his game is fairly one-dimensional and just does not faze Djokovic right now.
Federer, on the other hand, brings a much more varied game and his brilliance is often improvised. He is able to pull Djokovic out of the comfort zone and actually trouble him, as demonstrated by his victory in the French Open and near-miss in the US Open. Federer is on track to meet Nadal in the semi-finals, the first time since 2005 they’ve been in the same half. I would generally tip Nadal to beat Federer (except on grass and indoors) but given the bigger injury cloud over Nadal, I think Federer has a good chance.
Finally, a shout-out to Bernard Tomic. I like an unconventional guy and he is definitely that. He’s a breath of fresh air in the current men’s game, full of one-dimensional big servers/hitters. Looking forward to his match on Friday against Alexandr Dolgopolov, another talented, unconventional youngster.