Tennis fans are the most spoiled as their sport pretty much go year round, and its triumphant return from the month-long break is marked by one of the best events there is: the Australian Open. This year, the competition is being overshadowed partially by a heartbroken announcement from Andy Murray. The former world number one and three time major winner decided to retire after Wimbledon due to a nagging hip injury that kept him in pain. However, the show must go on and here is a quick run through of the top four seeds for bracketology purposes and a fun player to keep an eye out for.
Novak Djokovic is back. The world number one has the one seed and seems to have overcame his inconsistent period after coming back from an injury. The six-time winner capped off a triumphant 2018 campaign by winning the last two majors in Wimbledon and US Open. However, he has a tough draw ahead of him in quality players and also big names. Players like Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Denis Shapovalov and David Goffin could be awaiting before he gets into the quarterfinals. Don’t get me wrong, you never bet against a fully fit Novak, but that tough schedule could be a concern.
Rafael Nadal holds the two seed and tennis fans will still remember the dream final he and Federer had in Rod Laver Arena two years ago fondly. His 2018 campaign was cut short because of an abdominal injury and he recently pulled out of Brisbane International because of a thigh strain that was downplayed by the player himself. The draw is kinder to him, though. There are a few seeded players here and there, but his earliest threat is the rather one-dimensional John Isner and then Kevin Anderson in the quarterfinal. He might very well book a semifinal matchup against Roger Federer.
The Fednaissance is real. After a four-year major draught, Roger Federer has bounced back and claimed the past two titles Down Under. He did pick and choose his schedule very selectively, but it is completely fair in that he wants to maximize whatever he can get. His draw is not that bad, but young guns like Karen Khachanov and Stefanos Tsitsipas might keep it closer to the maestro’s liking. The biggest Federer trap game is definitely against the big-serving Croat Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals. The loss against Kevin Anderson in Wimbledon last year speaks for itself, alongside Wimbledon 2016 with a tough Cilic matchup followed by a Raonic loss. With rest and adequate time to fine tune himself in the early rounds, Federer should again make a deep run in hopes of winning three Australian Opens in a row.
The up-and-coming hotshot Alexander Zverev rounds out the top four seeds coming of a career breakout year. He had multiple career-best performances in the majors and rounded out the year with an ATP World Tour Finals win. The draw is arguably the kindest for the young German when it is broken down into quadrants, with real challenges coming against Milos Raonic and Dominic Thiem possibly in round four and the quarterfinals. Quarterfinal is as far as “Sascha” got in majors previously, and it will be interesting to see if he can push deep into the draw after a meteoric rise.
Denis Shapovalov is the undoubted fun pick to watch. He has an absolutely cracking left hand to boast and the angles he take with his ground strokes are breathtaking. He also has that now-rare whip of a one-handed backhand to boast. The Canadian currently ranks 27th and is in the same quadrant as Novak Djokovic, which is not good news at all. If there is a chance to catch one of his earlier games or the Novak matchup, please do and treat yourself to something fun.