This time last year, Roger Federer was ranked 17th in the World and was just looking to spend as much time on the court as possible, probably break into the Top 10 by Wimbledon. Little did he know what would transpire in the following weeks, leaving the entire tennis fraternity awestruck. This year, however, he is World No. 2, the defending champion and coming off a title-run at the Hopman Cup. Federer might have played down his chances of winning the title, but if he continues to play the way he did at Perth, the others would have none.
The finals of the Australian Open last year between Federer and Nadal was the only Grand Slam final to have gone the distance. The other three Grand Slams were won in straight sets, including two won without having dropped a set throughout the tournament (Nadal – French Open and Federer – Wimbledon). Federer’s victory over Nadal in the finals did something that Federer had failed to do all these years, made Nadal think he needed a better strategy to beat Federer. Which he couldn’t come up with the entire year. Federer went on to win three more matches against Nadal last season, and is currently on a five-match streak against Nadal (the best ever).
Should Federer win the title, he would become the first man to win 20 Grand Slam titles and would jointly hold the record for most Australian Open titles (six) with Rod Laver and Novak Djokovic. And if Nadal loses prior to the quarter-finals while Federer defends his title, Federer would ascend to World No. 1. Why this doesn’t seem like a long shot is because amongst the other players who have it in them to actually win, Grigor Dimitrov is the only one who is at the right place, physically and mentally. While Nadal, Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka are former champions and cannot be discounted, they still haven’t recovered fully. However, Sascha Zverev, Nick Kyrgios and DelPotro can be expected to make deep runs. Also, former Australian Open Boys Champion, Yuki Bhambri has qualified for the singles draw. About time he proved his mettle.
Novak Djokovic is seeded 14th in the draw this year. A top player seeded so low is never good news for that quarter of the draw. Coming off a long break due to injury and seeded low at the Australian Open, Djokovic is well placed to pull off a Federer here.
The Court is now in session, the Hon’ble Roger Federer presiding!