The first grand slam of 2017 is upon us as the Australian Open begins on Monday.
World number one and 2016 Sports Personality of the year winner, Andy Murray, will be touted as the favourite to triumph down under, followed closely by Novak Djokovic.
It would be foolish to rule out Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Despite their best years being behind them and 2016 being a year to forget for both players, it would not be a great surprise to see either lift the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup.
Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic, Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori will also fancy their chances and will be backed by many.
The Australian Open is arguably the hardest grand slam to predict, as it is the first major tournament of the year. This year is no different.
A player’s form is almost impossible to second-guess as we have no idea how they have been over the off-season.
But who has the potential to cause an upset? We’ve compiled a list of five players that have every chance of going all the way.
Nick Kyrgios is a controversial figure in the world of tennis.
Despite his undeniable talent and potential to be a grand slam champion, his attitude and temperament on the court leaves a lot to be desired.
His physical conditioning has been a major question mark after falling victim to a number of injuries on the court in recent times.
At 21-years-old, Kyrgios is the youngest player inside the top 20 ATP rankings, he is currently ranked in 14th and his career high is 13th.
He won his first three ATP World Tour titles last year in Marseille, Atlanta and Tokyo respectively. All of these tournaments were held on a hard surface.
With the Australian Open being on a hard court and in his home country, even he will not find it difficult not to get himself motivated for this.
He already has a Quarterfinals appearance in 2015 Australian Open under his belt, so don’t be surprised for this tournament to be the making of Kyrgios.
Dominic Thiem has enjoyed a successful spell on the court over the past couple of seasons.
Last year, he secured four singles titles to bring his career total up to seven world tour triumphs.
The Austrian had only enjoyed title success on the clay surface previously, but he secured wins both on grass and the hard court.
The 23-year-old can no longer be considered just a clay specialist and is adding consistency to his game that will make him a potential grand slam winner.
He is currently ranked 8th in the world and there is no reason why he cannot stake a serious claim to being the new Australian Open champion.
Dimitrov will come into the tournament on a high after winning the Brisbane international last week.
On his road to victory, he defeated Dominic Thiem, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori to clinch the first tour title of 2017.
He has not won a tour title since 2014 but he will head to Melbourne full of confidence and fancy his chances of getting the 2017 season off to the perfect start.
Despite his lack of silverware, the 25-year-old is a match for anybody on his day. He defeated Andy Murray in the Miami Open last year.
The victory in Brisbane will have reminded many on the circuit that he is not just there to make up the numbers.
With his best years still ahead of him, Dimitrov will be a dangerous opponent to face this week.
The Czech has been an ever-present in the top ten of the world rankings since 2010… but only just.
The 31-year-old has been on a steady decline since reaching his career high ranking of 4th in 2015.
However, the Australian Open will be to his liking as his last eight world tour titles have come in hard court tournaments.
Many would’ve written off Berdych, but his big game credentials cannot be questioned as he reached the 30th final of his career in Shenzhen, where he was victorious over Richard Gasquet.
He is well-respected pro on the tour circuit and a victory over Berdych would have to be a hard fought one.
At just 19-years-old, Alexander Zverev is one of the youngest players on the tour, after only turning pro in 2013.
He is currently 24th in the ATP rankings and many are backing him to reach the very highest level.
At 6ft 6", he has a height to his game as well as a ferocious forehand.
Last year, he won his first major title in St. Petersburg. He snapped Stan Warwinka’s 11-game winning streak and became the youngest ATP champion.
His all-round game has earned him high praise and a growing list of admirers.
The vast majority believe that this grand slam is too early on in his career for him to be seriously considered as a potential champion.
There is no doubt that the German will be a future grand slam winner but there is no reason why that future will not be on Sunday 29th January…
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