Big four to rule again in 2013

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    Can anyone stop Novak Djokovic? (AAP Image/Barbara Walton)

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    With world number one Novak Djokovic’s recent victory over Roger Federer in the ATP Tour Finals in London, a tremendous year for men’s tennis has come to an end, a year that saw the top four players snaffle a Grand Slam apiece.

    And if form and fitness of the players hold true, we could be in for yet another electrifying 2013 season, which gets underway in a month’s time or so.

    The men’s game is fascinatingly dominated by the top four superstars – Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal – followed by the chasing pack of David Ferrer, Juan Martin del Potro, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga et al.

    Let’s look at the top four players, who in all likelihood are expected to stay at the top of the perch, leaving a yawning gap between them and the rest.

    Novak might not have been able to replicate the phenomenal form displayed in 2011 but still managed to have a fabulous 2012, winning the Australian Open in a pulsating final with Rafael Nadal, along with three Masters Titles, one in Beijing and the most recent triumph in London. Additionally, he made the finals of the US and French Opens and the semis at Wimbledon.

    A true warrior to the core, the dynamic Serb wears his heart on his sleeve. Having been side-tracked by the heroics of Federer and Rafa for so long, his rise and mental dexterity in the last two years has been extraordinary.

    Ask Rafa, who was within a bull’s roar of the 2012 Australian Open title going 4-2 up in the fifth set, only to be defeated thanks to the sheer doggedness of the world number one in testing circumstances.

    It’s only a matter of time before he wins a French Open title and completes the ‘Career Slam’.

    It’s hard to spot a weakness in his game as he’s such a brilliant all-round player, who somehow finds a way to win. If there’s anything that could hold him back in 2013, it’s his fitness.

    Some players lose the desire to excel once they turn 30 but not Roger Federer who, at 31, refuses to fade away. Andy Roddick retired this year (age 30) and Lleyton Hewitt’s (age 31) game is on the wane, but Federer continues to reign supreme.

    Despite a few stumbles in the last few seasons, this graceful master had a great 2012, winning Wimbledon, three Masters Titles and one each in Rotterdam and Dubai. He also made the semis of the Australian and French Opens and lost in the quarters at the US Open.

    He might not be as dominant as he was in the mid-noughties but finishing this year as world number two is a clear sign that he’s still capable of giving his rivals a run for their money. If there are any flaws in his game, it would be his athleticism against his peers. There’s no questioning the great man’s appetite for success.

    When tears rolled down Andy Murray’s face as he watched Federer win his seventh Wimbledon title, questions began to once again swirl around as to whether the Scot is capable of beating a top player to win a Slam.

    With the influence of coach Ivan Lendl finally paying off, Murray has answered his critics having had one of the best seasons of his career so far, winning the US Open and Olympic Gold.

    Moreover, his progress has been so good that people are now talking about the dawn of a tantalizing Murray versus Djokovic rivalry in the sport; two players who contested fiercely, facing off on seven occasions this year with the Serb marginally taking the honours at 4-3.

    There’s a lot to look forward to from the Scot and, on current form, he is expected to battle for top spot.

    Having lost to Djokovic in seven straight matches in 2011, Rafa Nadal looked set to overcome the mental block he had developed against the Serb with a few modifications to his game.

    He beat Djokovic in three consecutive finals this year, the Monte Carlo and Rome masters, plus the French Open and pushed the world number one to the limit in that absorbing six-hour Australian Open final.

    But disaster struck at Wimbledon, when he lost to unknown Czech Lukas Rosol in the second round and since then he’s been sidelined with serious knee issues.

    Tennis has missed the imperious presence of Rafa for most of 2012 and one can only hope that the indefatigable Spaniard would be able to maintain form and fitness in 2013. However, he might take some time to find his rhythm having been out of action for an extended period.

    But Rafa is a great competitor and cannot be ruled out at any cost.

    Who knows, maybe Tomas Berdych or del Potro could upset the applecart and add a new dimension to the game. But understandably, all eyes will be on the big four superstars, which is why 2013 is yet another season to look forward to with great anticipation.

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    The Crowd Says (17)

    • November 18th 2012 @ 5:26am
      jinesh said | November 18th 2012 @ 5:26am | ! Report

      has been a gr8 year for men’s tennis… the fact tat each of the top 4 have won one grandslam each says it… we have missed rafa..hope he is bck soon n bck wit a bang…rfed has had a mixed yr but stil the competitive spirit in him astounds me…but off late he has been slightly strugglin 2 match up the physical capabilities of the other three..age is showin up.. but he is managin tat with his sheer ability n i stil feel some tennis is left in him…but i thnk its goin 2b inbetween djoker and andy.. its up 2 andy if he ccan carry on his gud form n prove ppl tat he is not a one slam wonder…lendl indeed has amde a lot of difference..mentally he is able to compete wit the other guys now…i dont see others breachin tis top 4.. players like del potro,tsonga,ferrer ,berdych have 2 show tat consistency across surfaces 2 compete wit the top 4..

      • November 18th 2012 @ 9:44pm
        k77sujith said | November 18th 2012 @ 9:44pm | ! Report

        Thanks jinesh.

    • November 18th 2012 @ 11:45am
      Frankie Hughes said | November 18th 2012 @ 11:45am | ! Report

      Can’t see just the supposed top 4 hogging the Majors in 2013.

      Guys like Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin Del Potro are capable of winning the big prizes. In Del Potro’d case he’s already won the US Open.

      Berdych has been a Wimbledon finalist and had the tornado like winds not arrived at the US Open this year he would’ve beaten Murray.

      As for ‘It only being a matter of time’ before Djokovic wins at Roland Garros, you couldn’t be more wrong. Rafa can win at Roland Garros playing at only 50%.

      Federer’s time is up. I’m putting it out there that Wimbledon 2012 will be his 17th and final Slam.

      Murray isn’t consistent enough to bag multiple Majors.

      After the US Open, he hasn’t won another event. Guys like Federer, Rafa and Djokovic keep winning.

      • November 19th 2012 @ 6:54am
        k77sujith said | November 19th 2012 @ 6:54am | ! Report

        Yes…with Rafa around…it becomes doubly hard for Novak to win the French Open…but he’s come close in the last couple of seasons. I agree with your point on Murray’s consistency in the majors… but he looks a lot more settled now….let’s see if he can sustain his form for an extended period. Thanks.

    • November 18th 2012 @ 2:04pm
      Ivy said | November 18th 2012 @ 2:04pm | ! Report

      Well-said, fellow tennis fans. I’m still a softy for and have so much hope that Federer will give US a couple more Slams, ONE more, maybe, anyway. At least to have 1 more chance. My husband and I have tried to come up with the name or memory of another tennis player such as Federer: not only this unique stillness and grace, variety of shot, power, and precision, but the consistency that you mention above. (Sampras is as close as we can come up with and he’s not really “Federesque.”)

      Good group of guys. Djokovic, so colorful and charming a character with all the gifts HE has. As you mentioned above Del Po and Berdych are always a threat. Ferrer is a persistent cool presences, as well. And, Andy Murray. Such a variety of shot that he has, surprising artistry. Combine that with a good, steady “head” and whatever else Lendl seems to be cultivating with Murray. And, Rafa: nothing to say there except please hurry back.

      Thanks for being here as I passed by. Enjoy 2013!

      • November 19th 2012 @ 6:57am
        k77sujith said | November 19th 2012 @ 6:57am | ! Report

        Hi Ivy…yes…no player as silken and graceful as R-Fed. The chasing pack is more than capable of upsetting the odds. Like you said, Murray’s issues are in his head rather than his game. Cannot wait for Rafa to come back, I just hope he won’t take too long to hit the high strides. Thanks.

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      November 18th 2012 @ 3:39pm
      Jocelyn McLennan said | November 18th 2012 @ 3:39pm | ! Report

      Sorry but I think Nadal is gone.. his knees are going to be an ongoing drama and the physical input to his game has taken its toll…he play play and still commant the clay…but he will not dominate the other three on any other surface….If Federer had ended the year at number it may have inspired to continue to work had and keep the spot…..by going back to number one Federer has only made Djovich hungrier and my determined….2013 is tantalising to say the least but it will be the big three minus Nadal…unless he can find 2 brand new knees.

      • November 19th 2012 @ 6:59am
        k77sujith said | November 19th 2012 @ 6:59am | ! Report

        Hope your health is holding up well Jocelyn. Rafa’s knees are always an issue, pity at such a young age. However, I think he’s too good to be ruled out just yet…might take some time to find form and if he stays fit, it’d be great…time will tell. Thanks.

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          November 19th 2012 @ 7:54pm
          Jocelyn McLennan said | November 19th 2012 @ 7:54pm | ! Report

          He will be a force on clay as always…but the fittness
          needed to keep up for a full tournament schedule is what has hammered his knees in the first place and only will reoccur if he trains at the same pace he has in the past….we will be around in 2013 dont worry and adding more clay courst title to his name…but one more GS at Roland Garros is about all we can expect from him

    • November 18th 2012 @ 8:13pm
      Dcnz said | November 18th 2012 @ 8:13pm | ! Report

      Rafa is currently training every day and working his strength in his home gym .. He is my personal favourite and currently Nole v Rafa is the best game worth watching .. Maybe add their clashes with Fed …. Sorry I find Murray boring to watch …

      • November 19th 2012 @ 7:00am
        k77sujith said | November 19th 2012 @ 7:00am | ! Report

        I’m a huge fan of Rafa as well and my interest in the sport isn’t the same with his absence…let’s hope he’s back soon in a big way. Thanks.

    • November 18th 2012 @ 8:31pm
      Caremello Koala said | November 18th 2012 @ 8:31pm | ! Report

      Reality is this. Even if Rafa never comeback to what he was or never even come back full stop or never wins a grand slam again, he is one if the all time greats of modern tennis. 26 years old. 11 grand slams, and 1 Olympic singles gold medal. 2nd all time prize money winner not that that means much as prize money always goes up. But the man is a king. A true great.

      Novak is a better tennis player he has beat Nadal in his prime, at wimbledon and at Melbourne. The best ever maybe Novak may end up being.

      • November 19th 2012 @ 7:01am
        k77sujith said | November 19th 2012 @ 7:01am | ! Report

        Truly, like you said, Rafa is already a legend and easily one of the top 5 players in the game ever. One can only hope there’s more to follow from the champ.

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