With the Australian summer of tennis nearing a close, Darren Saligari offers his thoughts on the likely stories to emerge in men’s tennis for the rest of 2013.
Welcome back, Rafa
He hasn’t played since late June 2012 and is scheduled to make his long-awaited return at the Brasil Open in February. The greatest claycourt player in the Open era, all eyes will be on Nadal, particularly at Roland Garros where he has won the title seven out of the past eight years. Despite that, I’m not tipping him to win in Paris. My tip to hoist the Coupe des Mousquetaires is …
Novak Djokovic will complete his career Grand Slam
You can bet Novak Djokovic has planned his season around winning at Roland Garros – the only major trophy that he hasn’t won. Close last year, the determined Serb will leave nothing to chance in 2013.
Tsonga is coming
Injuries have cruelled Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s career since he stunned all comers in 2008 to make the Australian Open final. Since then, just as it seems the beaming Frenchman is getting on a roll, his body fails him. But this is Jo’s year. He may not win a major title, but don’t be surprised if he makes a Slam final or a couple of semifinals, puts some serious pressure on the big four and finishes the year in the top five.
Dimitrov and Janowicz to continue their ascent
Grigor Dimitrov and Jerzy Janowicz both had their moments in the Australian sun this summer. Dimitrov was a finalist in Brisbane but fell in the opening round here. Despite this, there are better things on the horizon for him. Janowicz made a name for himself in Melbourne thanks to an on-court meltdown, but he will soon be featuring in highlights clips thanks to winners rather than wondering aloud “How many times?”
Tomic and Raonic will be top 10 by the end of the year
Plagiarised from the man himself, but I’m going to go with it – Bernard Tomic will live up to his own hype and crack the top 10 by year’s end. With nine first-round exits in 2012, there is a lot of room for Bernie to pick up plenty of points provided he continues to work and play the way he has this Australian summer. He’s No.43 right now, only 33 spots to go …
Milos Raonic is a bit closer – he’s No.15 now and has been as high as No.13 in the past, but this is the year for Milos. He does have some points to defend, but third- and second-round exits at Roland Garros and Wimbledon respectively leave the door open for the Canadian to make a significant move, particularly at Wimbledon where his big-serving game should flourish.
Gasquet and Tipsarevic to make way in the top 10
With some new blood headed for the top 10, then some must make way; sadly for Richard Gasquet and Janko Tipsarevic, your days in the top 10 are numbered.
Djokovic’s reign at the top to continue but Murray is coming
Childhood friends and now on-court rivals, Djokovic and Murray will meet in more finals in 2013. I still think Djokovic has another year at the top but Murray is my tip to finish the year in second place behind the Serbian Superstar.
What about Roger?
The Swiss Maestro will continue to play his beautiful brand of tennis, but I don’t see him winning any of the majors this year. One last thing, his run of consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinals – currently at 35 – will come to an end this year.