2012 marks a historic moment for the world of tennis as the Australian Open celebrates its 100th anniversary. Amazingly enough, the tournament spent most of its life as a grass-court event, held at Kooyong Park until it moved to Melbourne Park.
In recent years the tournament has often proved a stage for previously unheralded players to make their mark. Arnaud Clement, Rainer Schuettler, Marcos Baghdatis and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga have all been surprise finalists in the past decade.
All attention will be on two-time champion Novak Djokovic going into the 2012 event. Djokovic’s season will probably never be equalled and after picking up three of the slams in 2011 he’ll be determined to continue his dominance.
Based on 2011, Rafael Nadal will probably prove his biggest challenger but the Spaniard has only once made the final in Melbourne and has succumbed to injury in the latter stages twice in recent years.
If Andy Murray is to end his Grand Slam duck it will probably happen in Australia. The British player has come desperately close over the past couple of years, finishing runner-up to Roger Federer and then Djokovic. The surface suits Murray’s counter-punching game down to the ground but he’s starting to realize he needs to open up more from the back of the court if he’s going to go that extra step.
As for the rest, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has a superb record in Australia and if he hits a hot streak of form, he could be very dangerous while David Ferrer’s been around for many years now and if the top guys slip up, Ferrer could well reach his first slam final.