The 2014 Australian Open could be one of the year's biggest tennis events. Played on hard courts, the tournament quickly separates the year’s stars from the rest of the tennis world and the up-and-comers from the pack.

With defending champion Novak Djokovic eager to protect his three-year reign of victory and challenger Rafael Nadal equally keen to claim the title for himself, this year’s Australian Open promises as ever to be a great event in international tennis.

Read on to learn more about the top ten challengers for this year’s Australian Open title and 2014’s first Grand Slam.

1. Novak Djokovic

Serbian tennis superstar Novak Djokovic has dominated the Australian Open for the past three years. As one of the youngest players to have ever won the title three years consecutively, he is a fierce competitor for the first Grand Slam tournament of the year.

2. Rafael Nadal

Spanish star Rafael Nadal has a lot in common with reigning Australian Open champ Novak Djokovic. He’s young, immensely ambitious, and is currently ranked number 1 on the ATP circuit.

As one of two tennis players to have won two Grand Slam titles on three different court surfaces, this versatile star could be the most serious threat Djokovic faces in defending his title.

3. Stanislaw Wawrinka

Thanks to his powerful backhand, this Swiss player has gained a serious following in the world of professional tennis. Wawrinka is confident on the clay, but we are looking forward to see if he can perform as well on the hard courts in Melbourne.

4. Roger Federer

Swiss champion Roger Federer needs no introduction. Widely regarded as the best tennis player in the world, the 32-year-old Swiss star might take it easier than usual at this year’s Australian Open.

Interestingly, Federer recently lost to Leyton Hewitt at the Brisbane International in early January. Some fans believe that the Australian’s victory over Federer was due to the Swiss player’s inconsistent performance throughout the 2013 season.

5. Andy Murray

Scotland’s finest player, Andy Murray has long been a great contender in tennis tournaments around the world. Murray is the only British player to win a Wimbledon singles tournament since 1936, making him a challenger to win this year’s Australian Open. His recent injury may count against him this time around, however, especially given the form of the world's top two.

6. David Ferrer

This 31-year-old Spanish player knows how to put up a fight. He’s reached the finals of the 2013 French Open, the semi-finals of the US Open, and the quarterfinals of Wimbledon. Let’s hope he can achieve similar success during this year’s Australian Open.

7. Juan Martin Del Potro

Travelling from Argentina, Juan Martin Del Potro has plenty of reasons to excel at this year’s 2014 Australian Open. Just 25 years of age, he’s already reached a career-high ranking of World No. 4, making him a serious threat in the future.

8. Lleyton Hewitt

It takes ability to beat Roger Federer – ability that Australian player Leyton Hewitt has certainly got. Ranked World No. 1 at the age of 20, Hewitt has the ability to achieve a top position at the 2014 Australian Open.

9. Bernard Tomic

Young up-and-comer Bernard Tomic could be one of this year’s biggest potential stars. After representing Australia at the Hopman Cup in 2013, he has since gone on to compete in the French Open and last year’s US Open, where he reached the second round.

10. Tomas Berdych

Czech player Tomas Berdych is known for two things: his incredible height (he’s six-foot-five without shoes on) and his unpredictable performance. In 2010, he beat Roger Federer in the Wimbledon quarterfinals, before losing to Rafael Nadal in the final.

You can catch all of the action from the 2014 Australian Open on TV or online from the 13th January, and start to prepare yourself for this year’s Wimbledon Championships. Buy your tickets online now direct from Wimbledon Debentures.

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