What is different in 2013? Andy Murray is now a true member of the "big four", coming into the season as a Grand Slam Champion. My opinion is this year will be about the Djokovic/Murray rivalry and that they will battle out the Aussie Open final and the rest of the year vying for number one. Who are the guys in Australia who can upset the odds. Roger has proven time and. Again that you count him out at your peril. His achievement of another Wimbledon and especially regaining no1 was remarkable. However he has a tough draw and Nikolas Davydenko is a potential banana skin in round 2. Del Potro finished the season well and if he had a good off season physically will be dangerous. I felt through 2012 the level was there but not the level of fitness of the top four.
It is a journey of training to get to the level of Murray, Nadal, Djokovic and Federer who can sustain a phenomenal level throughout the year. The two young guys who need to go deep to show that they can begin to challenge the top of the game are Bernard Tomic and Grigor Dimitrov. Both have started well with Tomic winning Sydney and Dimitrov playing a decent final in Brisbane in losing to Murray. Outsiders who can produce upsets are Davydenko, Anderson, Tipserevic, Ferrer and Berdych.
Australia often throws up a surprise semi-finalist but I see this more on the womens side than the men's. I cannot see anyone other than Serena or Victoria Azerenko taking the title. Maria is always there to challenge and Radwanska continues to take small steps towards the top of the game. I believe Laura Robson and Heather Watson will between them create some havoc in the draw and a 4th round or quarter-final is not beyond the realm of possibility.
It is interesting that two TeamBath-MCTA girls, Sam Murray and Lisa Whybourn would have gotten into the qualifying had they travelled to Australia. We hope that over the next 3 months both can progress into the top 230 and play the French Open. Sam won her first 25K challenger in October and backed it up with a semi-final of a 75K in Japan to achieve her highest ranking of 255. Lisa entered the top 300 again and retained this ranking for a number of months setting herself up well for 2013.
My friend and long time colleague Jez has finally met his match in the veterans training department. See "The Confession" in this video below: