If the last 12 months in Tennis has taught us anything it’s that the Grand Slams can be won by more than just the so-called ‘big four’ these days.
Stanislas Wawrinka and Marin Cilic both had outstanding years and secured their first Grand Slam titles at the Australian and US Opens respectively.
So as the first major tournament of 2015 edges closer and closer we single out five players we think can get all the glory at Melbourne Park on February 1.
He’s World no.1, made it to two Grand Slam finals last year and is the defending Wimbledon champion. In my opinion, Djokovic will win the Australian Open this year.
He has a great history in Melbourne Park with the 2014 edition the first time failed to win it in three years – and he only just missed out on a place in the semi-finals in a close fought five setter with eventual winner Stanislas Wawrinka.
Although he hasn’t won a Grand Slam since the emotional 2012 Wimbledon final he’s still in the form to secure another title. He came incredibly close to a record eighth Wimbledon title in May and on another day could have beaten Djokovic in one of the closest finals in its history.
Lightning couldn’t strike twice in the same place, could it? Well stranger things have happened in world tennis. This time last year, Wawrinka’s impressive Aussie win may have looked like something of a fluke but Marin Cilic’s win in the US later in the year instantly changed that – the ‘big four’ aren’t quite as much of a ‘thing’ as they used to be.
But, since that victory Wawrinka has gone from strength to strength securing his best ever Wimbledon finish and playing a huge part in winning the Davis Cup for Switzerland too. He’s not the world no.4 for nothing, you know.
Murray has had good end to a year that featured plenty of disappointment wining three titles in 5 weeks at Shenzhen, Vienna and Valencia. He seems to be back in his stride a bit more now will be eager to atone for his first year without a Grand Slam Final since 2009.
After finally securing Slam wins at the US Open (2012) and Wimbledon (2013) the Australian Open is one that will be desperate to add to his collection after coming so close on three occasions losing the final in 2010, 2011 and 2013. He’ll have a tough time of it but he’s certainly back in the shape to mount a significant title challenge.
Nishikori is used to breaking down boundaries and he’s the first ever Japenese tennis player to make it into the top 10 in ATP Singles Ranking – which in my opinion makes him perfect as the dark horse for the Australian Open.
Someone like Wawrinka doesn’t quite qualify for that mantel because we all know he’s going to have a good tournament. He made the final in an unpredictable US Open last year and if 2015’s opening Grand Slam turns out to be as competitive as we expect he could be set for a similar run.
He’s in good shape and played more tournaments than anyone else in the top six of the ATP Singles Rankings in 2014 too.