Novak Djokovic won the title fo the 2nd time in 2011. Image courtesy of Getty Images/tennispanorama.com
Defending Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic will go into the tournament as the top seed for the first time when the event starts at Melbourne Park on Monday. 2011 was a stellar season for the Serb, collecting Wimbledon and US Open titles to go with his second Australian Open crown. He has chosen to go into this year’s showpiece without playing in an official ATP event to date this year.
His biggest challenger could well be the man that he defeated in the decider twelve months ago, Andy Murray . The Brit is yet to win a Grand Slam but has been knocking on the door at the big events – and has been a beaten finalist at the first major of the year twice- but is yet to win one. He proved himself to be in good form by winning the ATP event in Brisbane in his preparation for the Australian Open.
Despite being under injury clouds, both four time winner Roger Federer and 2009 winner Rafael Nadal go into the event with strong chances. Australian hopes appear to rest on the young shoulders of teenager Bernard Tomic . Rising Canadian star Miles Raonic won his second ATP title in Chennai at the start of the year and could be a darkhorse .
Just like the men, several big name women go into the championship with fitness queries. 2011 winner Kim Clijsters had to withdraw from her semi-final in Brisbane with a hip injury. Five time Australian Open champion Serena Williams also pulled out of that event due to an ankle injury. Wimbledon victor Petra Kvitova goes into the tournament with strong credentials after performing strongly at the APIA International in Sydney.
US Open winner Samantha Stosur will fly the flag for the host nation, although the world number six has never made it past the fourth round in Melbourne. World number one Caroline Wozniacki is another to consider, although she is yet to win a Grand Slam event, along with last year’s runner-up Li Na .
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