Who Are Favourites For The Year’s Remaining Grand Slams?
February 28, 2017
The Australian Open gave us a throwback to yesteryear as old foes Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal played out five gripping sets with the Swiss star coming out on top 6-3 in the decider to claim an unprecedented 18th men’s Grand Slam Singles title.
We look ahead to the remaining three majors of 2017 and preview our favourites for the biggest events on the tennis calendar.
The resurgent Spaniard looked back to his gladiatorial best in Melbourne – his forehand possessed its trademark pop and his movement was as explosive and dynamic as it has ever been. He is a nine-time champion at Roland Garros and will go into Paris as the overwhelming French Open favourite if he can bring the form he showed down under onto his beloved clay.
The Serb memorably completed his sweep of the Grand Slams in last year’s final when he outfought Andy Murray in four tough sets. Since the moment that he saluted as “the biggest of his career”, Djokovic has lost his aura as an invincible force, even surrendering his world number one ranking before the season was out which seemed virtually impossible given his gargantuan lead over the rest of the chasing pack.
Has made the final here four times and if he is able to re-energise and refocus psychologically, the 29-year-old will again be amongst the main challengers at Roland Garros.
The humble Austrian made it to the last four in Paris last year and has firmly established himself in the world’s top ten. His prolonged baseline play is perfectly suited for the red dirt – a surface in which has experienced his greatest success, winning five ATP titles and defeating past French Open champions such as Nadal and Stanislas Wawrinka.
The leading player in men’s tennis gave a near faultless performance in last year’s final as he dispatched big-serving Milos Raonic in straight sets to win his second Wimbledon title and third Grand Slam overall. With a record five Queen’s Club Championships, the backing of the crowd and a natural grass-court game, Murray has the pedigree to join long-standing rival Djokovic on a hat-trick of Wimbledon crowns.
His astonishing comeback triumph in Australia after six months out with injury was surely beyond even the wildest dreams of the Swiss maestro. Prior to this coup, many felt Federer’s best chance at winning another major would be on the hallowed lawns at SW19 – an event in which he has made it to the final on no less than 10 occasions, emerging successful in seven of them.
Another victory here would elevate him into outright first place as an all-time record winner of Wimbledon titles and cement his incredible legacy even further. The bookies see him at 7/1 and third favourite for Wimbledon behind Murray and Djokovic.
Dimitrov burst onto the scene in 2014 when he made the semi-finals at SW19 and the Bulgarian has been the form player of 2017, picking up two ATP Tour titles and enjoying a run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open where he narrowly lost out in an epic duel against Nadal.
Nicknamed ‘Baby Fed’, it appears the talented 25-year-old is at last stepping out of this shadow and becoming his own man. If Dimitrov continues to grow in confidence, he will once again be considered a genuine Grand Slam contender.
The three-time Grand Slam champion known as ‘Stanimal’ will be on the hunt for a fourth in 2017, having accumulated one major each year since 2014. An inspiring performance in New York last year saw him deny Djokovic a 13th Grand Slam title, impressively coming from a set down to win the final in four sets. Known for his elegant one-handed backhand and being a big-match player (having won 11 consecutive finals), ‘Stan the Man’ will be one of the US Open 2017 favourites heading into the Big Apple.
Having lost his US Open crown last year, Djokovic will be determined to reassert himself as the dominant hard court player on the ATP World Tour. A shock loss in Australia to World Number 117 Denis Istomin from Uzbekistan has led many to question his motivation, but it is difficult to look past his consistency in majors where he has won five of the last nine and reached the semi-finals or better in New York for a staggering 10 consecutive years.
A former finalist in 2014 (lost to Marin Cilic) and current world no.5, Nishikori has shown strong form on the hard courts, recently reaching the semi-finals in both the 2016 US Open and the ATP World Tour Finals. His run at the Australian Open ended in the 4th round, losing to eventual champion Federer in five high-quality sets.
Possesses a very strong all-round game, with potent groundstrokes from both wings and superb speed and defensive skills. However, the Japanese star will need to improve his serve to prevent opponents winning cheap and easy points, if he is to become a consistent contender for major titles in the future.