Aussies to look out for over the rest of the 2013 ATP season
Bernard Tomic’s loss to Roger Federer on Saturday night ended the hopes of the Aussies at the Australian Open and also ended the Australian summer in the WTA and the ATP.
So after the summer of tennis, who are the Aussies to keep an eye on in 2013? And what can be expected from them over the next few months?
Despite the Australian summer for the WTA and ATP being over, it continues in Australia as the ATP Challenger series and Australian Pro Tour series starts.
For the men this includes three ATP challenger events in Burnie, Adelaide and Sydney and two ITF future events in Melbourne and Mildura.
Many Australians will be competing in those tournaments as well as many others overseas on the ATP tour.
Here are the five – and a couple more – that are to be looked at over the course of 2013.
Bernard Tomic (current ranking 43)
After a brilliant summer which saw him take out his first ATP title, 2013 will be interesting. Can Tomic maintain his new found persona into the clay season? Can he sustain it away from Australia, where he has struggled in the last couple of years?
If you look at 2012, compared to 2013 in Australia, Tomic didn’t really do much more than he did last year.
Taking out the win in Sydney, Tomic failed to replicate his fourth round appearance in the Australian Open. He did win the AAMI Classic and was a semi-finalist in Brisbane in 2012.
And here lies the problem. After Australia last year, Tomic struggled in the tour and fell down the rankings after the middle of the year.
The key to 2013 will be to avoid what happened in 2012.
Rotterdam is the first location for Tomic on February 11-17 and his success at the ATP 500 event there will be precedence for his 2013.
If he continues his form from Australia and goes far into the tournament, then everything will be good. If he doesn’t, then the same questions will be raised as in 2012.
If Tomic is to be a top ten player, like he says he will be, then his attitude from Australia needs to continue overseas and his clay season needs to be better than last year.
Can he do it? I reckon he can, but Rotterdam will provide many answers in two weeks’ time.
Marinko Matosevic (current ranking 48)
Had Bernard Tomic and Sam Stosur not taken the headlines during the Aussie summer, then Matosevic would have made the headlines and taken plenty of the spotlight in the press.
No wins in three tournaments’ and another failure at a Grand Slam event isn’t ideal for the Aussie who was the No.1 heading into the Australian summer.
Thankfully for Matosevic his failure to pick up points last year in Australia protected his ranking and he escapes the summer without pressure and importantly a loss in rankings.
However that won’t last too long for the Australian with Matosevic having to protect over a quarter of his points he gathered at Caloundra – in the challenger tournament – and the Delray Beach ATP event – where he made the final – in the next month.
Matosevic won’t be in Australia to protect his Caloundra points, instead he will focus on the ATP events in San Jose and Memphis, before trying to repeat last year’s performance at Delray Beach.
This year will be Matosevic’s second season in the ATP tour and he will have to be careful of the sophomore effect where second-year players struggle to adapt to the pressures of the tour.
Here’s hoping he can, otherwise Matosevic will suffer similar consequences to Tomic who struggled in his second year.
Lleyton Hewitt (current ranking 81)
Hewitt’s 2013 could be a major indicator as to the future of the two-time grand slam winner, with the Adelaide native now out of the top 100 after his loss to Janko Tipsarevic at the Australian Open.
The positive for Hewitt is he has nothing to defend in points until July this year.
When you combine this with the multiple amounts of wildcards he will receive because of his pedigree in the sport, Hewitt will have the opportunity and tournaments to climb back into the top 100.
Hewitt still has talent to be competitive in the sport and he showed that in Australia with Tipsarevic having to play amazing tennis just to defeat the Australian.
San Jose will be the first stop for the Australian followed by the tournament in Memphis the week after.
Good performances at these events will keep the retirement talk on hold.
John Millman (current ranking 184)
One of the stars of the Australian summer, John Millman will look at 2013 as his opportunity to crack the top 100 and develop himself as an ATP tour player.
Millman’s win against Tatsuma Ito in Brisbane was his first in the ATP tour in his career and he will look to use his summer success to push his ranking further in the next couple of months.
After starting the summer ranked 199 in the world, Millman is now 184 and is very close to his career-best ranking of 179.
Millman will continue his season in Australia at the Challenger events in Adelaide and Burnie and will have to defend his quarter final appearances in Caloundra – which has been replaced by Adelaide – as well as Burnie.
If he can do that – and he should based on his form – then he can build on his ranking and push towards direct acceptance at many ATP tour events.
If Millman wants inspiration for moving up the rankings he should look no further than fellow Australian Matosevic. Matosevic won two challenger events early in 2012 before climbing up the rankings.
Millman’s tennis in the Australian summer was that of a top 50-100 player, time will tell if he can replicate that to his actual ranking.
James Duckworth (current ranking 223)
Similar to Millman, another Aussie to impress was James Duckworth who almost made the third round of the Australian Open after an epic second round match against Blaz Kavcic.
Unfortunately for the Aussie, it won’t improve his ranking – as he made the second round last year – but the signs are there that the Aussie can push forward into the top 150 this season.
Last year he was hampered with a back injury that ruled him out of action for the second half of the season. At the Australian Open, not only did Duckworth play exceptionally well but his injuries looked to be gone, which is a positive for him.
Duckworth doesn’t have many points to lose this season which could be areas where the Sydney sider can gain points to improve his ranking.
Duckworth will be at the challenger events in Burnie and Adelaide and will look to defend his semi-final appearance at Caloundra in those two events.
Similar to Millman, Duckworth will look to perform well in the Australian challenger events to build his ranking and qualify for ATP tour events.
Duckworth has shown he can also play as a top 100 player, time will tell if he can have a ranking that shows that.
Others to look out for
Luke Saville (career ranking 349)
This year will be Saville’s first as a professional tennis player and not a junior. He’s struggled so far acclimatising to the professional scene, but did show signs of his junior talent at the Australian Open against Go Soeda. Building up experience on the challenger circuit will be the key in his first season.
Matt Ebden (career ranking 108)
Struggled in Australia and has fallen out of the top 100 after failing to defend points in Asia last year and in Australia this year. Has the talent to be in the top-100, even pushing the top 50, but will now need to be successful in the challenger circuit to bounce back.
This year is huge for his career aspirations.
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