Classifieds | Archives | Jobs | About TGT | Contact | Subscribe
 | 
Last updated 3 hours, 40 minutes ago
Printer Friendly Version | TGT@Twitter | RSS Feed |
HOME LOCAL MIDEAST ASIA WORLD BUSINESS SPORT OPINION WRITERS
Federer still the man to beat at Melbourne Park
January 13, 2018
 Print    Send to Friend

MELBOURNE: It might be argued that 36-year-old fathers of four have no business winning grand slam titles but try telling that to Roger Federer as the evergreen Swiss bids to claim a record-equalling sixth Australian Open crown in two weeks’ time.

Federer will saddle up for a 19th time in the main draw at Melbourne Park, looking to frustrate ‘Generation Next’ once again and defend the title he won last year during a stunning comeback from knee surgery.

No such queries hang over his fitness this year and if bookmakers are to be believed the other 127 men in the draw will be fighting for the scraps from Federer’s plate.

On immediate form, few could argue. Federer, seeded second, arrives for a first round match against mid-ranked Slovenian Aljaz Bedene after cruising through an undefeated run at the Hopman Cup.

His major rivals, meanwhile, are either carrying injuries or returning from them, or in the case of ‘Big Four’ cohort Andy Murray, ruled out because of them.

A magical 20th slam might seem a formality for a player who did it all in last year’s tournament with the shortest of run-ups, but on closer inspection, Federer’s path through the draw is far from straightforward.

Danger lurks at almost every corner, with former Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic and a resurgent Juan Martin Del Potro, the man who beat Federer for the 2009 US Open title, looming as threats before the quarter-finals.

Yet few would be surprised if the tournament ends in a repeat of last year’s final with Federer up against his great Spanish rival and top seed Rafa Nadal. The pair split the four grand slam trophies between them last year, with Nadal, at 31, finishing the season as the ATP rankings’ oldest world number one.

FIT AND FIRING

Like Federer, Nadal has pared back his playing schedule to prolong his career but the strain still showed when he pulled out of the ATP Tour Finals in November with a knee problem after losing his opening match.

He missed warmup events in Abu Dhabi and Brisbane but appeared untroubled in an exhibition match win over Austrian world number five Dominic Thiem at Melbourne Park on Friday.

If fit and firing, 2009 champion Nadal will be hard to beat but needs to bring something new to the court if he ends up facing Federer, who won all four of their matches last year.

The Melbourne crowds will throw their support behind the two grand slam titans but the younger generation of players probably wish they would just go away.

Year after year the bright sparks and ‘Next Big Things’ have been denied by the ‘Big Four’ at the slams.

Even with Murray and Novak Djokovic out of the frame for much of 2017 due to injury, ‘Gen Next’ once again failed to make inroads at the four tournaments that really count.

Most bookmakers see third seed Grigor Dimitrov as the best chance among them to make a breakthrough in Melbourne, but still rate the Bulgarian lower than Djokovic, who brings a major query over his serving elbow, is seeded 14th and has barely swung a racquet in six months.

While Melbourne Park maestro Djokovic will bid for a record seventh Australian Open title, those fans hoping for a shake-up of the establishment may look to 20-year-old Alexander Zverev after his stellar 2017. Like 22-year-old Australian Nick Kyrgios, fourth seed Zverev possesses a majestic game capable of toppling the very best but also has a propensity to crumble on the biggest stages.

Grand slam success is seen as a matter of when, not if, for Zverev but the ageless Federer stands ready to thwart another youth-led insurrection.

Reuters

Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites
Comments
 
Post a comment
 
Name:
Country:
City:
Email:
Comment:
 
    
    
Related Stories
Pliskova stuns Wozniacki in Singapore, Svitolina downs Kvitova
SINGAPORE: Big-serving Karolina Pliskova used her most potent weapon to damaging effect as she overwhelmed defending champion Caroline Wozniacki 6-2 6-4 in their opening ..
Khachanov wins Kremlin Cup to realise childhood dream
Moscow: Third seeded wildcard Karen Khachanov of Russia beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in straight sets on Sunday to secure his second ATP title of the season at the Kre..
Srikanth beats Lin to reach Denmark Open quarters
Odense: World No.8 Kidambi Srikanth came from behind to beat Lin Dan to reach the quarter-finals of the Denmark Open on Thursday. Srikanth took 1 hour and 3 minutes to..
Kerber, Wozniacki headline round robin groups
SINGAPORE: The 2018 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore draw was revealed on Friday, with former World No.1 Angelique Kerber and defending champion Caroline Wozniacki leadin..
Wimbledon set to introduce final set tie-breaks
London: Wimbledon will introduce tie-breaks in the final set of all events for the first time next year, but only once the score in the deciding set reaches 12-12, the Al..
FRONTPAGE
 
GALLERY
 
PANORAMA
 
TIME OUT
 
SPORT
 
 
Advertise | Copyright