We are now just a couple of weeks away from the first Grand Slam of 2018 as Roger Federer bids to defend his Australian Open title. Federer and Rafa Nadal rolled back the years to dominate 2017 and they will be the front-runners at Melbourne Park in January. Heavyweights Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka are battling to return from bad injuries, while exciting youngsters like Alexander Zverev will try to deliver on their promise. Throw ATP Finals winner Grigor Dimitrov and runner-up David Goffin into the mix and we are left with an exciting field. Here are the leading contenders:
The Swiss won his first Grand Slam in five years when he beat Nadal in the Australian Open final in January 2017. He then went on to win Wimbledon in June and extend his list of Grand Slams to 19, and he looked unplayable at times. Careful management of his body has helped him preserve his fitness, and he is playing with as much grace, fluency and flair as he ever did. Make sure to check Bookmaker for the latest odds on the event and you will see that Federer is the favorite to win it. However, he was heavily fancied to win the ATP Finals but crashed out at the hands of Goffin, so it is not a foregone conclusion.
Nadal is now world number one again after winning the other two Grand Slam titles of 2017: the French Open and the US Open. He retired from the ATP Finals with an injury, but should be refreshed and rejuvenated in time for the Australian Open. He is now just three Grand Slams behind Federer in the all-time list and is likely to dominate the French Open for the next few years, so he has a good chance of overtaking the Swiss. But he has also shown he can excel on hard court and will be a real threat at Melbourne Park.
Djokovic is the third favorite to win in Australia after making his long-awaited return from injury. If he can recapture his previous form he will once again be the best player in the world and will dominate major tournaments, but this might be a bit early for him. He has not won a Grand Slam since midway through 2016 and might struggle in brutal five set matches as he lacks match fitness.
The Scot should have dominated 2017 after Djokovic’s injury, but he too struggled with form and fitness, opening the door for Federer and Nadal to return to the summit of the game. He is in a similar situation to Djokovic now as he has wonderful raw talent, but may struggle for fitness so soon after returning to action. Wimbledon in June may be a more realistic goal for Murray.
The German climbed up to world number four in a breakout year that saw him win his sixth ATP title. He is just 20 years old, but has already achieved a great deal and is tipped as the future of men’s tennis. However, he has never been past the fourth round of a Grand Slam and is a risky option for anyone looking to bet on the winner of the Australian Open.
Dimitrov looks an interesting option at long odds to win the Australian Open after overtaking Zverev to become world number three with victory in the ATP Finals. The big-serving Bulgarian will be a huge threat to Federer and Nadal and seems to be growing in confidence all the time. Goffin also has plenty of momentum and looks like a great long shot at odds of 50/1. Here is a look at our Projected Year-End ATP World Rankings for 2018.