The draw for the 2016 Australian Open is tomorrow and excitement levels are elevating rapidly. The first major of the year is upon us again and the ageless Roger Federer will once more be competing at the hottest slam on the calendar. He has been under the weather but should be fine come Monday. Federer has made it to the last two major finals, showing that he still has what it takes on the big scene.
However, it's Novak Djokovic who is the hot favourite to sizzle once more Down Under and add another major to his growing resume. He is in unbelievable form and I'm struggling to reason who can stop him before the final.
Stan Wawrinka is one man who has stopped Djokovic in Melbourne, in fact he is the last person to beat him there, 2 years ago in the quarter final. Wawrinka is always dangerous on the hard courts, particularly when his backhand is on song. But there remains too much inconsistency of performance to back him to go all the way.
Rafael Nadal is having somewhat of a resurgence following illness and injury during 2014. He is slowly climbing his way back up the rankings but is still a long way from lifting another major, so rudely highlighted last week by Novak Djokovic who slaughtered him 6-1 6-2 in the Qatar final. On the hard courts I would expect Nadal to consider it a success to reach the last eight.
Andy Murray has been runner-up in Melbourne 4 times, losing out to Roger Federer in 2010 and 3 times to Novak Djokovic. He had a great rebound year in 2015 and will be looking to get 2016 off to a flyer with a run to the final once more. now ranked #2 in the world, the Scot will avoid Djokovic until a potential final. Murray would like Wawrinka in his half, leaving Novak and Roger to fight out a possible semi in the other half of the draw.
That covers the top 5 players in the world, and other than them, I can't see anyone else making huge strides in Melbourne. It will be a big year for Grigor Dimitrov, who with so much potential, had an awful 2015 and will find it necessary to go much deeper in slams to convince the tennis world he is the real deal.
Milos Raonic looks likely to enter the draw at #14 and is one to watch. He has improved his all-round game dramatically from a year ago and can now complement his booming serve with a big forehand and solid backhand. He comes into Melbourne having beaten Roger Federer in the Brisbane final on a wave of confidence and optimism.
For the home boys, Bernard Tomic, Nick Kyrgios, Sam Groth and Thanasi Kokkinakis will all be hoping for a good run in the tournament with Kyrgios the most likely for me to spring a surprise or two.
Mens tennis resumes now! Who is your tip for the title in Melbourne?