Andy Murray has lost in the final of the Australian Open five times including four times to Novak Djokovic but 2017 could be the year when he finally wins the first Grand Slam tournament of the year. Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will be trying to win the French Open and Wimbledon yet again but young guns in the form of Milos Raonic and Nick Kyrgios could begin a new era of players winning the tournaments that matter most. Novak Djokovic is too good not to win more majors and he can add to his tally in the US Open.
There are four major tournaments in tennis, played in different conditions and on different surfaces. The Australian Open is played outdoors on hardcourts at the end of January and early in February, at the height of the summer in the Southern Hemisphere. The French Open is played outdoors on clay at the start of the summer in Europe and then Wimbledon is played on grass from the end of June. The US Open is the last major and is played outdoors on hardcourts at the end of the summer.
Eight male players have completed the career Grand Slam by winning each major at least once. The last four (Andre Agassi, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic) achieved their slams on hardcourts, clay and grass while the first four won the big events on just clay and grass. No male player has won all four in the same season since Rod Laver in 1969. He did the same thing in 1962 and Don Budge won all four in 1938, the only other player to achieve this feat.
If Andy Murray is ever to win the Australian Open it surely must be in 2017. He ended the 2016 season as the world number one and is a true champion. He has risen to the pinnacle of a brutally competitive sport during a great era. He is playing at his peak while Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have been on the scene and each is dominant on a different surface. Murray won at Wimbledon and the Olympics again and was rightly honoured by becoming the first person to the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for the third time.
Murray turns 30 in the spring so he has no more than four years to be competitive and enhance his legacy. This starts with him entering the Australian Open as clear favourite for the first time. If Murray never wins in Melbourne it will be a glaring omission form his record as conditions suit his game. He will play little competitive tennis ahead of the first major of the season but he can finally win the Australian Open and it would be fitting if he beat Djokovic in the final.
Tip: Andy Murray to win the Australian Open at 13/8 with Betfred.
Rafael Nadal is known as the ‘King of Clay’ and he has won the French Open on the surface nine times. However, in the last two years has not gone beyond the quarter-finals and his era of dominance on clay looks over. The Spanish player still managed to finish in the top 10 despite missing large parts of the season. He seemed to lose his nerve on the big points but even with his old confidence restored winning a 10th French Open looks beyond him.
The baton could be passed to one of the new breed of stars in Milos Raonic. He lost in the Wimbledon final to Murray in 2016 and was defeated by the same player in the semi-finals of the ATP Tour Finals. Raonic clearly has the potential to win a major but he always been in the events when the four best players have been at their peak. For various reasons a new era is beginning and Raonic can start that process by winning the French Open.
Tip: Milos Raonic to win the French Open at 40/1 with William Hill.
Roger Federer has won at Wimbledon seven times but another major looks unlikely. He had a short season in 2016 due to injury and at the turn of the year is ranked 16. This means he could be unseeded for many events if he drops further down the rankings. Motivation will be key but even if he is inspired for another season it’s asking too much to win at Wimbledon again.
The best player in the world on grass mantle could pass to Murray who is the current Wimbledon champion. However, he has won the Championships twice and his focus could be more on Australia and France where he has not won their Grand Slams. Nick Kyrgios has all the raw talent to achieve anything he wants in the sport. There are doubts about his temperament and attitude at times but it could all fall into place at Wimbledon in 2017.
Tip: Nick Kyrgios to win Wimbledon at 28/1 with Coral.
Novak Djokovic won the title he craved most when taking the French Open in June to complete his career Grand Slam. There has been a dip in form and motivation since. The second half of 2016 was beset by off court and playing problems. It could be that he has reset his career or he has suffered serious burnout. Djokovic has won five of the last six Australian Opens but that is Murray’s to lose this time. Clay and grass may prove too difficult to win on again.
Its inconceivable that Djokovic will not win another major tournament. His best chance in 2017 could be at the US Open at the end of August and start of September. He is just about the best player ever on hardcourts and conditions in New York at the end of the summer suit his game. Even in the new era of tennis Djokovic can beat the best and that can happen in the 2017 US Open.
Tip: Novak Djokovic to win the US Open at 13/8 with BetVictor.