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What To Watch For In Melbourne

Melbourne, Australia

Federer© Getty ImagesRoger Federer buscará obtener su título 18 de Grand Slam

Big Four Lead The Way 
Although Rafael Nadal is missing from this year’s Australian Open, the top three players in the Emirates ATP Rankings lead the way – Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray. Last season was the first time since 2003 there were four different Grand Slam champions. 

In 30 of the past 31 Grand Slam tournaments (since ’05 Roland Garros), one of the Big 4 has lifted the champion’s trophy. The only exception came at the ’09 US Open, where Juan Martin del Potro won the title. 

The past seven titles in Melbourne have been won by three players: Federer (three times, four overall), Djokovic (three times) and Nadal. Federer and Djokovic are the only former winners in the draw.

The World No. 1/Two-Time Reigning Champion 
Djokovic is the No. 1 seed for the fifth time in a Grand Slam tournament, the second in a row in Melbourne. He is 25-2 lifetime as the top seed:

No. 1 Seed (Year) Result (W-L)
Australian Open (2012) Champion (7-0)
Roland Garros (2012) Runner-up (6-1)
Wimbledon (2012) SF (5-1)
US Open (2011) Champion (7-0)

Note: Only two players have won three (more) titles in a row at the Aust. Open: Jack Crawford (1931-33) and Roy Emerson (1963-67). Djokovic is the 10th player in the Open Era to win back-to-back titles.

The 25-year-old Djokovic comes into Melbourne ranked No. 1 for 64 weeks in his career (as of Jan.14)  and he has finished No. 1 the past two years. Here’s a look at his outstanding run:

  W-L (Grand Slam) Hard Courts Finals vs. Top 10
2012 75-12 (24-3) 50-5 6-5 24-10
2011 70-6 (25-1) 46-5 10-1 21-4

No. 1 Ranking Update
Last season there were two changes at No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. It was the first time since 2003 the No. 1 ranking changed more than once.  Although Djokovic comes in with a 2,655-point lead over Federer, the No. 1 ranking could change after the Australian Open. If Djokovic loses in the quarter-finals or earlier and Federer wins the title, the Swiss will return to No. 1. Federer ranked No. 1 for 17 weeks last season and he’s held the top spot for a record 302 weeks in his career.

Grand Slam King 
Federer is the all-time leader in men's tennis with 17 Grand Slam titles and he's accomplished the feat in a span of 38 Slams played since winning his first title at Wimbledon in 2003.  His eight-year streak of winning at least one Grand Slam title came to an end in 2011 but he’s won at least one Slam title for eight of the past nine years.  Overall he is 17-7 in Slam finals with six losses to rival Nadal and the other to Argentine Juan Martin del Potro. Federer has a tough draw and he could face seven Top 50 opponents if he reaches the final. The only time that’s happened in his 17 Grand Slam title runs was at the Australian Open in 2010.

Grand Slams Streak
Federer is the only player in this century to play in every Grand Slam tournament in singles. This will be Federer’s 53rd consecutive Grand Slam tournament played. Wayne Ferreira holds the all-time record of having played in 56 straight Grand Slam tournaments from 1991-2004. Federer could tie the record at the US Open later this year. Spaniards Feliciano Lopez (44), David Ferrer (41) and Fernando Verdasco (39) are next among active players.

Grand Slam Club
The newest member of the Grand Slam title club, No. 3 Andy Murray, who won the last Slam tournament at the US Open, is trying to become the first player in the Open Era to win his maiden Slam crown and follow it up with another Slam title.

Grand Slam Champions in Field
Four-time Australian Open champion Roger Federer is one of five Grand Slam winners (accounting for 26 GS singles titles) in this year's main draw. Here are the active Grand Slam tournament champions in the draw: 

Player Age No. Grand Slam Titles
Roger Federer 31 17 2003-07, '09, ‘12 Wimbledon; 2004, '06-07, ‘10 Aust. Open ; 2004-08 US Open, 2009 Roland Garros
Novak Djokovic 25 5 2008, '11-12 Aust. Open , 2011 Wimbledon, 2011 US Open
Lleyton Hewitt 31 2 2001 US Open, 2002 Wimbledon
Andy Murray 25 1 2012 US Open
Juan Martin del Potro 24 1 2009 US Open

Tomic Leads Aussie Hopes
Mark Edmondson is the last Aussie singles champion in 1976.  Bernard Tomic, 20, the youngest player in the Top 100, was playing in his first ATP World Tour final on Saturday in Sydney. He is making his fifth straight appearance in Melbourne (7-4 mark) and last year he lost to No. 3 Federer in the fourth round.  Lleyton Hewitt, 31, is making his 17th straight appearance in Melbourne (30-16 record) and his best result was a runner-up in 2005 (l. to Safin). In his 15 other showings he has never advanced past the 4R. Marinko Matosevic, who was the No. 1 Aussie last season after jumping from No. 201 to No. 49, is looking for his first win in Melbourne (0-3).

Young Stars on Rise
In the first two weeks of the season, two of the three youngest players in the Top 100 Emirates ATP Rankings have reached an ATP World Tour final: Grigor Dimitrov in Brisbane (l. to Murray) and Bernard Tomic in Sydney. Here is a look at the Top 5 youngest players in Top 100:

Emirates ATP Ranking Age
No. 64 Bernard Tomic (AUS) 20 years, 2 months
No. 68 Ryan Harrison (USA) 20 years, 8 months
No. 41 Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) 21 years, 7 months
No. 78 Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS) 21 years, 10 months
No. 15 Milos Raonic (CAN) 22 years, 18 days

Will There Be a Breakthrough Winner?
Since 2006 the Australian Open has been won by a Top 3 ranked player (Federer three times, Djokovic three times and Nadal once). The last player outside the Top 3 to earn the title was No. 4 Marat Safin. Here’s a look at the players in the draw who have reached a Grand Slam final and are still looking for their biggest career title:

Ranking Player Grand Slam Final
No. 6 Tomas Berdych 2010 Wimbledon
No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 2008 Australian Open
No. 31 Marcos Baghdatis 2006 Australian Open

Doubles Champs
Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan have finished No. 1 for eight of the past 10 years and are five-time winners of the Australian Open, including 2011 (finalists last year). Overall they have 12 Grand Slam titles, which is tied for the most all-time with Aussie greats Newcombe-Roche.

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